Throat and ears hurt, but I'm not otherwise sick. ?
October 5, 2007 10:50 AM   Subscribe

Sore throat/neck. Popped ears won't unpop. Not otherwise sick. What's wrong?

That spot just below the jawbone, behind the Adam's apple, where the doctor feels for swollen glands?
That is sore, but not swollen.
It feels like there's a tight ring around my esophagus, just above the adams apple. Hurts to swallow.
My ears are wierd, either popped or clogged, and pinch-nose-and-blow isn't clearing them.

I've had symptoms like this before, as parts of a really bad cold or flu, but I'm not otherwise sick at the moment. My sinuses are otherwise clear, etc.

I've always had trouble with my ears popping on planes, etc. Maybe I just have narrow Eustachian tubes.

I've also been diagnosed with hypothyroidism (Hashimoto's) this year, and am taking levothyroxine for it.

In my imagination, something is inflamed/swelling inside my neck, and that's pinching the ends of my Eustachian tubes closed.

Is that even possible? I can't seem to find a good picture of where the tubes terminate at the non-ear end.

I have a doctor's appointment, but my current HMO doctor (soon to be changed) tends to diagnose everything as allergies (don't have any) or just say "It's probably nothing; it'll go away or you'll get used to it"

Educate me, please, smart-type people!
posted by penciltopper to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
1) Don't ask us, see a doctor! They will be able to, you know, actually examine you and tell you what's going on.

2) A Purely speculative guess: Ear infection in the tubes that connect your ears/nose/throat?
posted by chrisamiller at 10:57 AM on October 5, 2007

Is it sore just on one side?
posted by peewinkle at 11:25 AM on October 5, 2007

Sounds like an oncoming or low-grade cold to me.
posted by loiseau at 11:32 AM on October 5, 2007

As someone for whom Eustachian tube problems are the rule, I'd say upper sinus problems. Sinus pressure can pinch those suckers like a garden hose. Someone with a medical degree would be more inclined to make that call, though.
posted by potch at 11:35 AM on October 5, 2007

How long have you had it?

My mother, who is not a doctor, says that's the first line of defense that your immune system uses. Sometimes it works and your body fights it off. Sometimes you go on to get a bigger illness.

My non-professional opinion is that if it lasts longer than 7 days, go get it checked out.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:50 AM on October 5, 2007

This is EXACTLY how the terrible cold that took three weeks to go away started for me.

Good luck.
posted by Sheppagus at 11:54 AM on October 5, 2007

I had a cold recently that involved ear wax clogging up both my ears--to the point I could hardly hear. That symptom had never occurred with any previous colds. My doctor's assistant flushed out an amazing amount of crud. You might buy an ear-wax removal kit at the drugstore and wash out any accumulation, while you wait to see a doctor.
posted by Carol Anne at 11:57 AM on October 5, 2007

Time for a saline rinse of your nasal passages. Just spray it up in there and tilt your head back. Drink plenty of fluids and this should resolve itself within a week.
posted by caddis at 12:06 PM on October 5, 2007

I've had sinus surgery, ear infections that landed me in the hospital, etc. Here are some things that can keep a minor problem/cold/whatever from getting more serious:

--Take a decongestant like psuedoephedrine (sudafed).

--Take ibuprofen (Advil)--it will reduce the inflammation in your ears and throat. Tylenol will not.

--Try an otc allergy medicine like loratadine once a day and see if it helps at all. Or try benadryl. Inspect your home casually for mold. You can develop allergies over time.

--Do a saline rinse.

--Drink as much water as you can, very hot water or tea is best. Inhale the steam from the mug while you're drinking in your best impersonation of the cheesy theraflu commercials.

--Stand with your nose over a steaming pot and inhale the steam, you can put a towel over your head to make this more efficient. Or take a hot shower.

--Lie with your head over the edge of your bed and tilt your head to one side. Then make a motion like you're yawning, or swallow. If you do this for a few minutes you might feel your ear draining. Switch sides. Repeat until you start feeling funny.

Do these things until it gets worse or better. If it gets worse, especially if your ears start hurting, go to a doctor. Your ears are very delicate and you can't afford to mess around. If they don't do much for you, ask for a referral to an ear nose throat specialist.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:39 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd guess you are experiencing an exacerbation of your Hashimoto's.

In Hashimoto's, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, and I think the constricting tight pain you feel above your adam's apple is a direct effect of inflammation of the thyroid there, somewhat similar to the joint pain and tenderness people with Rheumatoid Arthritis develop.

If your thyroid is under attack, it may not be producing the amount of thyroid hormone it should, or it could be making too much. Thyroid hormone can affect pressure in your cerebrospinal fluid; hyperthyroid is associated with elevated CSF pressure, and I have seen a few anecdotal accounts suggesting hypothyroid can cause CSF pressure to fall, but cannot offer you a definitive link.

Your middle ear is connected to your throat by your Eustachian tubes (as you mention), but I don't think a pinch in them is causing that feeling of pressure in your ears. Your middle ear is an air space that feels atmospheric pressure at your eardrum, and it also feels pressure from the fluid in the inner ear on the other side, and that fluid pressure is affected by CSF pressure in turn. I would guess the pressure you are feeling is due to elevated or depressed pressure in the fluid of your inner ear. If that pressure is too high, I think "pinch-nose-and-blow" would give you at least momentary relief because it increases the air pressure in your middle ear, which would tend to equalize with higher pressure in the inner ear, but not if that fluid pressure is low. I would say, therefore, that it sounds as if your thyroid hormone may be too low.

I think you should make an appointment to see the doctor treating your Hashimoto's as soon as you can.
posted by jamjam at 2:04 PM on October 5, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you're in a hypo phase, you're likely to be much more susceptible to viruses. The supplement beta glucans is one very efficient immunity booster (and has had clinical trials proving it).

This is an aside, but I strongly suggest that you not settle for taking synthetic T4 for Hashimoto's. Please do your own research and take action if you find yourself feeling less than 100% well. There are other options that many of "us" find work far better.
posted by vers at 2:29 PM on October 5, 2007

Off the wall suggestion for relief. The last time I had a bad ear infection, the doctor told me to chew gum. This week, I felt like an infection was coming back, with a plugged up feeling and pain in my right ear. It went away after a few sticks of juicy fruit. It apparently relieves pressure and helps saliva flow. Give it a try while you wait for your doctor appointment.
posted by saffry at 2:44 PM on October 5, 2007

It sounds like swollen lymph nodes and maybe a sinus infection to me. If it's viral, it won't respond to antibiotics, but if it sticks around for a long time (7 days or so) I would go to the doctor.
posted by selfmedicating at 5:59 PM on October 5, 2007

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