SECRET DIARY OF A íGLUE MANí, AGED 37.5 YEARS


Theresa Pitt, Aud.D., M.S.H.A.A., Audiology Services in S.E. Ireland.

To preserve his anonymity, names have been changed Ė however, this is a TRUE LIFE story, and IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU TOO!!

----Original Message-----

From: "gluey", To: pitta@tinet.ie <pitta@tinet.ie>

Subject: glue ear. Date: Sunday, November 22, 1998 1:18 AM

Hello, I just came across your web site through a search engine, as my GP suspects that I may be suffering from "glue ear". I always thought that this condition affected only children, but I happen to be 37! The symptoms developed after a mild cold, and have now persisted for over 6 weeks. I would be very interested to know if I should expect it to correct itself spontaneously or, if surgery is necessary, if there is any subsequent hearing impairment. The condition so far is affecting only one ear, but the sensation of "stuffiness" accompanied by hearing loss is not only uncomfortable but is adversely affecting my work as a musician. My GP prescribed some antibiotics (Klacid 250mg) and a nasal spray (Nasacort), neither of which had an appreciable effect. Any comments / advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Regards,

>Hi there,

Well yes you are in a small minority if youíve never had glue ear as a child and develop it at 37 - at least itís not in both ears. Havenít had any specific problems with your nose like breaking it etc? Sometimes nasal blockages can cause one-sided glue ears - or perhaps you were just very unlucky and got such a bad one that itís refusing to budge! All you can do apart from nasal decongestant (could go 6 more weeks or change to Actifed type oral decongestant - glue ears do sometimes improve after 3 months but not usually any longer) and antibiotics (and if they donít work after 6 weeks you might as well give up on those I think or try something homeopathic instead) is:

Blow your nose a bit more than usual; yawn or chew gum and if you get some clicks; persist with trying to Ďforce air backí in to the ear (to displace the fluid and clear the Eustachian tube); lie with the bad ear up not down; make sure your sinuses are fairly OK; try drinking less milk/eating less dairy to try and Ďthin the glueí; go on a hot holiday to see if it might dry out.

If none of these things work, the good news is that myringotomy (drainage) is literally a five minute job (straight down the ear canal with the suction tube!) and some ENT surgeons will do it without general anaesthetic if youíre a well-behaved subject!! And the chances of it recurring unless you have predisposing factors (like nose/sinus trouble) are pretty low. Iím away for a week in Cork testing adults for a research study Ė have to admit not many glue ears turning up although anyone who has had middle ear surgery in the past tends to be perfect again afterwards). And actually, the glue ear will protect your ear from loud noise quite effectively (just like an earplug!) while itís there. So good luck with your problem - I SAID GOOD LUCK!! Let me know what happens.

> From: Theresa Pitt <pitta@tinet.ie> To: "gluey" > Subject: Re: glue ear >>

Date: 07 December 1998 19:58 How is your glue ear getting along??

From: "gluey"

To: pitta@tinet.ie pitta@tinet.ie Subject: glue ear, 12:56 AM

Hello again,

Iíve been following your advice as regards clearing the damn thing and have found a marked improvement, by sticking a finger in the good ear, holding my nose and blowing hard. By this means I have managed to unblock the eustachian tube, and have now reverted to the early symptoms of "sloshing" sounds accompanied by intermittent deafness. There is still a marked hearing loss, even during "improved" episodes, but itís a hell of a lot better than it was. When I tilt my head back and forth, it makes some very entertaining noises indeed! Pehaps if I got out the drill........ Iíll keep you informed of any new developments.

> Rather you than me - but at least if itís sloshing youíre about halfway there - by summer you should be fine!!

>>OK but which summer? 99? 2000?

>1999 - by which stage if itís not gone you will have adapted your listening style - i.e. Ďjust come round here and talk in the good earí etc. Also, suggest that someone buy you a infra red listening device for Xmas which you can put on the TV (you get headphones which are very obvious) and thus ignore everyone else when they speak to you. Seriously, it almost certainly will go within a few months and if not the surgeon is always an option Ė I donít think Iíd tackle it as a do-it-yourself job though as your eardrum is

mighty sensitive. Really grommets are pretty effective in adults. Now you know how 10% of young children feel in the winter! Send me another progress report next week wonít you?

From: "gluey" To: pitta@tinet.ie <pitta@tinet.ie>

Subject: re: glue ear Date: Saturday, December 26, 1998 8:59 PM

Hello again,

A little progress report on the fluid-filled ear: itís clearing up quite nicely now, thanks to a lot of huffing and blowing as per your advice. I can even hear the rest of my band now. There is still the odd episode of mild discomfort, but these are far and few between, and getting rarer as time goes by. I have found, though, that one or two stimuli seem to have a

detrimental effect - the main one being drink. It may be something to do with increased blood pressure in an area that is already engorged with fluid, I donít really know enough about it to comment. Anyway, thanks for the advice etc. and have a happy and sibilant

New Year. I SAID HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR! Regards,

Subject: Re: glue ear Date: Friday, January 22, 1999 8:27 PM

>From: Theresa Pitt <pitta@tinet.ie>> To: "gluey", Date: 21 January 1999, 21:04

I had another musician who was complaining of bilateral glue ear and I was just thinking maybe I could put the narrative of my chats with you onto my website....

Hello again,

By all means use our previous chats on the site. Weíll be building a web site at the music archive where I have my day-job sometime in the distant future, though, so maybe you can put a link in. Iíll let you know what happens, if it ever happens!

The ear has now returned to normal, apart from the odd strange noise, but at least the deafness is gone. All of the usual decongestants are, to be frank, quite useless - even the steroid spray. I once knew a poor sod who poured Dettol in his ear to try and clear up an infection - that didnít work either. This character was also a musician. Iím glad I found you in time........ Thanks for the help,

<ADDENDUM: I've been told in November 2000 that this page is the ONLY ONE discussing adult glue ears on the entire world-wide web to surface in searches!! I've also been told interesting snippets about the dangers of snorting coke - causing nasal AND Eustachian tube damage apparently leading to a Glue Ears. (I'm sure some solvents are similarly dangerous although I don't personally indulge.) So my advice on that one is: DON'T!! And THANKS to anyone who has corresponded on the subject. I would like to advise you that a person I know, aged about 83, has just had a second grommet fitted (AND without a general anaesthetic) to good effect. ANYONE OLDER THAN THAT OUT THERE with a grommeting experience??

Regards,





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