Oh, my aching ears!
March 15, 2010 10:55 AM   Subscribe

Have you undergone myringotomy and placement of tympanostomy tubes as an adult? Was it helpful?

I have a long history of ear problems, going back to childhood. I had chronic, extraordinarily painful ear infections, which lead to the placement of 5 (five!) sets of typanostomy tubes over the course of about 4 years. I also had my tonsils and adenoids removed when I was 5. Eventually, I seemed to outgrow the infections, and made it through probably 20 years with minimal problems. I do have some minor hearing loss due to the thickening and scarring of my eardrums from the chronic infections and frequent surgeries.

But now, I'm dealing with chronic congestion in my middle ear, which sometimes leads to infection, but even when we clear the infection, the congestion remains. I'm currently on a course of real Sudafed and generic Flonase. However, if that doesn't help (and we'll probably give it at least 8 more weeks), there's the possibility of yet another set of tubes.

Since I was a small child, the previous procedures were done under general anesthesia. Apparently, it's an office procedure for adults. I'm a little leary about this - I *hate* having my ears messed with!

So, if you've had this done as an adult, I'd love to know about your experiences, be they good, bad, or indifferent.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse to Health & Fitness (3 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I had tubes put in at an office visit when I was in my mid-teens. It is painful, but I felt in the long run that it was worth it.

I didn't have much time to think about it -- it was decided upon and done on the same day. They handed me some ibuprofen, I took it, and they did the procedure. You might ask if you can have a sedative and some painkillers to take beforehand. They told me no local anesthetic would work. The reasoning for that doesn't make sense to me now (the needle would be as big as the cut), but I guess in retrospect it's not surprising that it would be hard to numb that area well.

The only other thing I remember was that I couldn't hear well for the next day or so, but I imagine that was true for the previous procedures you had.
posted by freezer cake at 12:11 PM on March 15, 2010

I had the procedure done as a child (many times, but under general anesthesia). I can tell you, though, that there absolutely are topical anesthetics used for the eardrum in the form of drops.
posted by the jam at 1:05 PM on March 15, 2010

I had tubes put in for the first time as an adult, under general anesthesia. I was also having a deviated septum fixed at the same time, so I don't know how the ENT would have handled it otherwise.

I had the tubes placed because my ears clog up when I exercise, and decongestants and allergy medication didn't help. I didn't have a history of ear infections or ear pain, so the pain versus benefits may be very different in your case. The tubes did nothing to resolve my issues and while they were in, I had trouble hearing in certain environments and some frequencies of sounds actually seemed painful.

The tubes didn't come out like they were supposed to, and I ended up visiting a different ENT (I moved in the meantime) to try to get them out. He claimed that some doctors would do that procedure under general anesthesia, but he refused to even give me a sedative. It was incredibly painful and he didn't manage to get them out. The tubes eventually came out on there own, but there was no way I would have done that again without some painkillers. I ended throwing up and feeling awful after general anesthesia, but I would have done that again before letting someone try to remove the tubes without anesthesia again. Granted, I imagine tube insertion might be quicker and more likely to actually work than someone digging around and yanking in your ear for something that doesn't want to come out.
posted by capsizing at 2:04 PM on March 15, 2010

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