Undiagnosed sensation of partial blockage in the left ear
I referred to this in another forum here - the one where people have reported vestibular issues following a covid vaccine. I do have menieres - or at least was diagnosed as such via ECOG test about 5 years ago. I have most of the symptoms at any rate. Most recently, however, a new symptom is this feeling of blockage or pressure, which has contributed to an unprecedented feeling in instability, lack of balance, and greater numbers of dizziness episodes. The ENT I've been to has discovered there is neither water nor wax, and so has me on Fluticasone nasal spray. He also had me on a course of Medrol, which seemingly didn't do anything. Having been back to him yesterday, he now wants me to do a VNG test. I've tried this twice before and can't get through it without getting sick, so not sure I want to submit myself to this again since I strongly suspect the results will again be inconclusive. And, I'm not sure as to how this test will help the ear problem. Any suggestions? I'm really thinking it's time to try a different ENT to get a bit more definitive answer - if there is one. When the blockage sensation first started, it was really scary being that how I perceived sound - especially music - was severely altered. Everything sounded muddled and/or distorted. Whether being on the steroids or for whatever other reason, it has improved to the point where incoming sounds are clearer but not what I'd call 'back to normal'. When I talk, the effect is one of when you hold your ears shut - with the voice sort of echoing back to me. The ENT did take a hearing test recently and reports there is little difference in my loss from that of 5 years ago when I underwent the meniere's testing. Thanks for any thoughts as I'm looking for some resolution. Referring to the forum I mentioned in the beginning, I have to wonder if all this is linked to post-covid injection.
That sensation of blocked, clogged ears is very common with vestibular conditions. My neurologist explained it as a disconnect between the brain and nerves in the ears. So, there's no test that will detect it. Because actually nothing is wrong in the ear. It's such a weird thing. I've had this many times, and often the symptom will predict an off balance/migraine time is coming. I haven't found any solution to the sensation other than to try and relax and calm the brain. Hang in there! Vestibular symptoms can be puzzling for docs too!
Because actually nothing is wrong in the ear.
Karen..thanks. I must admit - this is most discouraging in a way, since it suggests I have to actually live with this indefinitely? No treatment for it? As a musician, with the incoming sounds so muddled / distorted, etc. it's pretty devastating to think it'll just go on and on. My doctor is putting in a referral for me to see a neurologist, but you seem to be suggesting that might not even help. Weird how it was getting much better and now worse again. When I practice and play music, it started to re-sound at least quasi-normal, but last night was a regression back into everything sounding altered. It's mentally distracting since, as musicians, relying on what we are hearing is a huge and integral part of performance. The other thing is, the pressure sensation - whatever the cause - just seems to be associated with greater instances of vertigo / dizziness. My doctor just last night suggested continuing with the fluticasone nasal spray, taking my T-HCTZ daily instead of my usual every other, and wearing my hearing aids more frequently. Based on your experiences, would you suggest anything else in the meantime till I get an appointment? (OR, of course, if things resolve as mysteriously as they started with this pressure /fullness / blockage sensation, I'll take that too). Thanks again for the reply. I might just email you for further contact if you're willing.
Don't give up hope! My condition is so much better over the last couple of years. The sensation of clogged ears hasn't happened in six months. Vestibular Therapy and PT for my neck spasms have been huge helps. Also, when it happens I try not to panic, since the resulting anxiety can make all symptoms worse. Have you tried Vestibular Therapy? That's Physical Therapy with a vestibular specialist. The nose sprays and antihistamines didn't help me, but I know that they've helped others. Try everything!
Karen, believe me I'm willing to try anything...except another VNG test (lol). I should hopefully get a neurology appt. (at least scheduled) within the next week or so - just talked to them. They have my referral already so my ENT really moved on that since we only discussed it last evening.
I forgot to mention among the things the ENT suggested - one of them is vestibular therapy. I actually considered that well over a year ago already and had a referral from my PCP to go a local practice that offers the therapy but then didn't follow up on it cause at the time I was having virtually no problems with any dizziness. That's the weird part - up until this recent ear situation I can go weeks or longer with no meniere's episodes at all and those that typically occur are very mild. A few days after the covid shot, however, is when things really kicked into high gear and that's when the ear pressure started, which led to a severe vertigo episode - worst ever. The ear pressure, to varying degrees, has been with me ever since, along with unusually strong periods - very frequent too - of dizziness.
Thanks for additional replies - it's all very helpful and encouraging.
@three4rdHi Karen. I have vestibular migraine. I found physical therapy to be one of the best interventions. When I became stable I do exercises once a week to stay stable and when I have flare ups I have exercises to help. I hope this helps.
Brenda - I'm so glad PT was helpful for you. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right vestibular therapist, but I really think they understand these disorders and various treatment options.
There's probably no reason to ever get that VNG test again. I didn't like it either! It will be interesting to hear what you learn at your upcoming neurology appointment. Keep us updated!
You may want to ask your ENT or Audiologist about having a Eustachian Tube Dysfunction test done to rule out a problem in this area. Patients with ETD will often complain about ear fullness/stuffiness.