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jbmd
jbmd, Board Certified Physician
Category: Medical
Satisfied Customers: 615
Experience:  Board Certified physician in Internal Medicine - 30+ years experience
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Mucus congestion in the ear

Customer Question

Mucus congestion in the ear
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Medical
Expert:  jbmd replied 3 years ago.

jbmd :

Hi--I'll be glad to give you some advice. I am a board-certified Internal Medicine doctor with more than 30 years experience.

jbmd :

Ringing in the ears is one of the most vexing problems and the fullness from backed up sinus congestion can be painful. The ringing (tinnitus) should improve greatly when the fluid congestion is relieved.

jbmd :

What decongestant are you taking? Are you taking guaifenesin? It would be very important to take that to thin the mucus and make it drain.

jbmd :

Did you have ringing at all before this?

JACUSTOMER-4hbym8rw- : No I am taking sudafed..is guaifenesin on prescription or can I buy it at the chemist..no never had ringing in my ears before.
jbmd :

Gauifenesin is over the counter. Here is sold as Mucinex or Robitussin but there are lots of generic brands. Mucinex non-generic tastes far better than the generics.

jbmd :

I also have my patients wash their noses gently with WARM salt water as many times/day as they can.

jbmd :

However, if the situation is bad enough with discomfort/heaviness/pain/ringing and there is no contraindication (like diabetes), I often prescribe a short course of corticosteroids. They are risky long-term but in short term, not.

jbmd :

Sorry--I misspelled "guaifenesin" above.

jbmd :

To wash the nose I tell them to use a neti pot, which is like a little tea kettle.

jbmd :

The warm water helps loosen the mucus so it drains, also

jbmd :

(Glad you didn't have ringing before--long term tinnitus is almost impossible to treat)

jbmd :

You were typing. Did it not show up?

jbmd :

If you are no better in two weeks, you might talk with your doctor about a burst of corticosteroid to decrease the swelling in your ear canal and sinus.

JACUSTOMER-4hbym8rw- : No I don't have diabetes..do I need to see my doctor for corticosteroids..to be honest I have tried most things including a ear popper..and my doctor suggested I try pinching my nose and blowing which I do not sure how long to do it for and how often..can u just develop tinnitus for no reason.. Because this ringing is getting me down.
jbmd :

Don't use an ear popper. It is for wax removal and can cause damage to your eardrum. If you blow your nose, which I don't recommend, keep your mouth open. The inner ear is sensitive to pressure and if there's no place for the pressure to go, again, you can damage your eardrum.

jbmd :

I recommend drawing the mucus into the back of your throat. It sounds awful when you do it so be in private!

jbmd :

Tinnitus comes from damage to the nerve of hearing, usually from loud noises. The reason I asked was that I didn't want to give you false hope if you had long-term.

jbmd :

Short term tinnitus from congestion almost always clears up when the congestion clears up.

jbmd :

Your doctor, knowing you and your history, might prescribe a brief course of steroid

jbmd :

I am waiting for reply if you are typing to me. Also, use a humidifier in your room at night if it is dry

JACUSTOMER-4hbym8rw- : No never had a problem with tinnitus till I had this problem with congestion..I can not do this drawing the mucus from the back off my throat don't know how to..I do know this I swallow mucus all the time..I really need relief from this now how about putting cotton wool soaked in olive oil in my ears would that help..one thing though my hearing seems to be improving the dullness seems to be improving..my audiologist said when he looked in my ear that it looked dull can u tell me what he meant.
jbmd :

Here's how to try drawing the mucus to the back of your throat (the "old man" maneuver!) Close your mouth and then, against the closed mouth, draw in a breath through the mouth as if it were open. It will make a rough sound but will draw the mucus down, decreasing the pressure in the sinuses and ears rather than increasing.

jbmd :

Cotton wool in the ears will not affect the situation--the external ear canal is closed off from the inner ear canal by the ear drum unless the ear drum ruptures, in which case putting anything in would be dangerous.

jbmd :

If your hearing and dullness are improving, you're getting better. When your ear drum is dull, it means that there might be a lot of fluid behind it. Ordinarily it looks like a bright shiny sheet of plastic wrap. When dull, it looks like one that's been used to wrap something oily

jbmd :

So: cotton wool and oil would simply make your cheek and neck and pillowcases oily as the oil drained out from the warmth of your body. it wouldn't reach the place where the fluid is building up.

jbmd :

If you are getting better, you should keep going with decongestant, steroid nose spray if your doctor will prescribe it or if it is over the counter there (other nose sprays can rebound--make you worse), nose washing, guaifenesin

jbmd :

Did you manage the maneuver?

JACUSTOMER-4hbym8rw- : So if I do have fluid behind the ear drum can it take time to drain and will improve with decongestants.
jbmd :

Yes. It's thick and the lining of the area swells and traps the fluid and it takes time for it to drain, the situation improves with the thins outlined above.

jbmd :

Steroids and warmth help the swelling go down and help drainage.

JACUSTOMER-4hbym8rw- : No tried the manoeuvre may take some time but I will keep trying not sure if I am doing it right..must ask u this if I keep swallowing mucus will I just keep getting a build up in my ears.
jbmd :

If you spit the mucus out, that's fine, too. The sinuses can produce an incredible amount of mucus. Until the irritation/sinusitis/allergies are relieved, they will keep producing. However, the medications decease the production and help it drain

jbmd :

It will not hurt you to swallow mucus. It's yuckky but won't hurt

jbmd :

It won't cause more build up either. That just happens.

jbmd :

Instead of the neti pot to wash your nose you might try a NeilMed bottle: http://www.neilmed.com/uk/

JACUSTOMER-4hbym8rw- : Okay I think u have answered al my questions and have been incredibly helpful..I will stick with the medication and talk to my doctor and hopefully things will start to improve..many thanks.
jbmd :

They will improve. Things like cold and sinus seem to last forever but they rarely do and you're already improving.

jbmd :

If you're satisfied, please rate the chat so it closes and you can always ask more questions or update me later!

jbmd :

Good health quickly!

jbmd :

Did you have more questions? You didn't close this so I wanted to make sure.

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