Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Just when you think you are managing to cope with everything that has been thrown at you health-wise, life throws you yet another curve ball.

For nearly two weeks I have been suffering with increasingly debilitating bouts of dizziness. Initially I believed this to be low blood pressure, as when measured it has been on the low side but nothing strikingly different from normal. 

Last Thursday it ramped up a gear which was excellent timing, (isn’t it always?) as I had a hospital appointment with my consultant. Half way through chatting to the stand in (my consultant was on annual leave) I ended up having to put my head between my knees. It was so severe that the dizziness left me unable to speak for 30 seconds and believe me that is a tough thing to do. The stand in was concerned and offered me a glass of water. I declined because the way my stomach was feeling I knew it would induce vomiting that would be unable to stop. They then took my pulse and blood pressure. In the following few minutes they suggested that I needed to come into hospital…..next week. I declined.

You may think I am mad for declining but my reasons behind it were firstly I have been declining in health for over a year and have been left to get on with it. Plus I was feeling so poorly at that moment in time the only thing I wanted was my own bed, darkness and not to be subjected to countless examinations. Yes I was sick but regular readers are aware of my love of hospitals and the rules for calling an ambulance – unconsciousness or if I ask for it. I didn’t feel sick enough for a hospital stay. There were also economic reasons for not wanting to be admitted. Contrary to popular belief in the UK those of us unlucky enough to find ourselves in a position where we can’t work, are not living a life of luxury. To be in hospital for a week meant my husband taking a week off work unpaid. That is money that we can not do without. He is out of holiday pay and there is a great deal going on in the business he works for. He doesn’t need to be attracting the negative attention which caring for his disabled wife would most certainly draw.

The registrar and I agreed on a date in April for my admittance however that all depends on whether the hospital is on black alert. Black alert means there are no bed and only medical emergencies are being admitted. Unless its life or death you aren’t coming in. Due to cancellations of operations that I am aware of, I would hazard a guess the place is close to a black alert again. With this being booked in advance my husband can book paid leave and we can put in place the support we need.

After the hospital appointment I slept for close to 24 hours, something I never do. I am always tired after appointments but I rarely sleep. When I woke up I suddenly realised what was causing the dizziness. It wasn’t my blood pressure but my ears. My Eustachian Tube dysfunction was back for the first time since 2012. The familiar feeling of pressure in both ears, tinnitus and dizziness was back. Until the Saturday morning I had no feeling of pressure in my ears, so I had been barking up the wrong tree for the cause of my symptoms. No wonder increasing my salt tablets and steroids had done nothing to alleviate the spins.

Knowing what is causing the issue always reassures me. I dosed myself up on travel sickness tablets and took some over the counter steroid nasal spray to try to reopen my Eustachian tubes. The tubes are connected to your sinuses, so although my sinuses weren’t feeling blocked somewhere between my nose and ears they had become inflamed causing them to swell so much they collapse shut. When looking inside the ear a doctor can see that the ear drum is inverted, which caused by the pressure of the tubes swelling shut. Obviously I can’t see this but I can feel it. The feeling closely resembles the pressure when taking off / landing in an aeroplane or when travelling in the car up a steep hill. Your ears feel like they are on the verge of popping but never do.

By Monday I had to admit that the dizziness was getting worse. It was making me nauseous and I was unable to sit upright for more than a few minutes at a time. The Dr prescribed me some stronger steroid nasal spray and some anti sickness medication. Unfortunately the anti sickness medication although wonderfully effective didn’t agree with me. Diarrhoea and dizziness do not go well together.

This bout of inner ear problems is the worst I have ever suffered. It has been so debilitating I have been stuck in bed for close to a week. I am as white as a sheet, can barely walk as my balance is so bad and I just feel absolutely awful. Nothing other than lying completely still stops the dizziness. Sometimes the room spins violently other times the dizziness is internal. I have been so ill my husband told me he was staying at home to look after me. Every time that he has stayed at home to look after me I have had to ask. This time he took one look at me and told me, this was not up for discussion.

I have barely been able to use the computer, something about the screen seems to set the dizziness off so this post has been written over several days a sentence at a time. Hence why this post is a lot shorter than normal.

The good news is that this will go away, the bad news is it could be weeks or months until it is completely resolved. If it doesn’t resolve I may need grommets to try to keep the tubes open. Wish me luck!

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