my pain is a special snowflake
April 12, 2009 1:58 AM Subscribe
YANMD-filter: I'm having ear pain and want to avoid going to the hospital if I can. Yucky details inside.
posted by mustard seeds to health & fitness (14 answers total)
My right ear canal has been very tender for the past three days. After noticing some itching, I cleaned it out with hydrogen peroxide on Friday and was alarmed to discover pus gunking up my ear. A few months ago, I had a painful infection that sent me to the doctor, and I really don't want to go through that again. Three days later, I don't have any further symptoms (decreased hearing, fever, dizziness) but I still have some pain and itchiness in the canal. I have continued to clean my ears a few times a day with peroxide, and the gunk has gone away/is not aggressively regenerating, but the ear canal still feels sore, especially just after I clean it. Could it be sore just because I've been cleaning it too much for the past few days?
Normally, I would already have called my doctor, but I would like to treat this at home if it is at all possible. I'm currently living in a small town in China, about two hours from the nearest "foreigner's hospital." I went to the local hospital for my previous ear infection, and it was not a great experience (clouds of cigarette smoke, strangers crowding into the examination room to stare at me, unusually painful treatment, difficulty communicating with doctor). I have resolved to suck it up and go back to the hospital if I develop any other symptoms (stuffy ear, dizziness, etc.) or if the pain and itching increase, but I would like to know how I could (or should) be monitoring my ear in the meantime. At my last hospital visit, the doctor advised me to clean my ear canal three times a day with hydrogen peroxide, using a Q-tip. Leaving aside the fact that other doctors have repeatedly advised to never ever put Q-tips in my ear, three times a day sounds like a lot.
My plan is to take decongestants and vitamins and hope that the ear clears itself up on its own, but to try to make arrangements to go to the hospital in the city if things take a turn for the for worse.
I've read the posts tagged earinfection, earinfections, and earpain and I've looked on other forums, but I'm still hoping that someone on metafilter can advise me about whether I should leave the ear alone for awhile or whether I should keep cleaning it or if there is anything I should be doing/avoiding. Thank you and, please, no victim-blaming, metafilter!