Don't stifle a sneeze
August 12, 2016 5:24 AM   Subscribe

Good advice, and widely repeated on the internet. What is not widely repeated is what to do if you failed to take that advice and now have a blocked Eustachian tube for a few days. Thoughts? (For the record, it wasn't me, I have no shame in sneezing even in libraries.)
posted by IndigoJones to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live with eustachian tubes that are tricky and had tubes/grommets as a kid. A few suggestions

- Sudafed or other powerful decongestants can help
- neti pot is usually not helpful (says my doc) because you can get water in or near eustachian tubes
- I've had some luck with what are called "lymph drainage" exercises even though they feel like woo

Thing that worked the best for me was this technique for "glue ear". You don't need a fancy nose balloon. Just hold one nostril closed and put your finger over the other so there is some resistance to blowing air out and then blow out that nostril forcefully. I've been able to open up my ears decently with that. Of course if you have pain, fever, anything that might suggest an infection, go to the doc.
posted by jessamyn at 6:53 AM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

For very occasional issues -- like twice a year -- I use a neti bottle filled with salty water (i.e., the normal neti pot solution) with an added 1/2 teaspoon of Afrin. I do this ASAP after the tube gets blocked, in both nostrils, tilting my head to the side so the liquid gets sloshed around sufficiently. Usually this opens the tube up enough that it can drain out and it does not re-close. My ENT told me to do this.

It's important to not do this very often though, as you will build up a tolerance to Afrin and end up worse than you were originally. As someone with significant sinus issues -- I've had to have surgery on my sinuses more than once -- I am very conservative about this. I never allow myself a second dose if the tube closes up again from the same cold or allergy event or whatever. I head to the doctor after that.
posted by OrangeDisk at 7:16 AM on August 12, 2016

Kinda depends why it's blocked, but Sudafed will often open things up. If the person thinks there might be an actual infection though, they should go see a doctor about it so they can get it treated. But in the meantime, Sudafed would be my first resort for symptom management.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:43 AM on August 12, 2016

Sudafed is the only thing that works for me.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:50 AM on August 12, 2016

Response by poster: All right, we have option! Many thanks to all.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:51 PM on August 12, 2016

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