Wednesday, January 31, 2007
The wonders of endonasal therapy
Fast forward about half a dozen years, and I learned quite by accident (when I had another cold) that ingesting guaifenesin tended to clear my head and my hearing on the right side. Guaifenesin is an expectorant. It tends to reduce the viscosity of mucus so that it drains (and gets coughed up) more easily. A few years later, a product called Mucinex hit the market, which is a dual-layer tablet of guaifenesin; one layer is released immediately and the other is a time release. This helped enormously.
I began to suspect that my problems all along were associated with blockage of some kind of my eustachian tube on that side. The eustachian tube connects the middle ear with the throat and facilitates drainage of fluid out of the ear as well as equalization of air pressure between the middle ear and the outside world. If it gets blocked, fluid can build up inside the ear, which can negatively impact hearing and pressure equalization.
After googling around a bit I learned about something called Endonasal Therapy. It turns out that it isn't at all unusual for the opening of the eustachian tube in the throat to get blocked up with goop- congealed or crusty/chunky mucus- that doesn't dislodge and dissipate on its own. I found a fairly detailed description of the procedure (under "What the Physician Must Do"), which wipes clean an area of the rear of the mouth / throat called the "fossa of Rosenmuller". "Fossa" is just a fancy anatomical way of saying "crevice" or "groove".
Disclaimer: I am not a physician. I in no way recommend that you do what I'm about to describe. I relate it only because I did it to myself, and it worked. If you're not comfortable with the terminology, don't know your uvula from your tonsils or your tonsils from your adenoids or your adenoids from your soft palette, then don't even think about attempting this. Go see your doctor and ask him or her to do it for you.
Basically what you end up doing is putting a finger cot on the opposite finger from the side you're treating (left finger for right side), reaching waaaaay back in your mouth, just lateral and posterior to the uvula, posterior to the tonsils and adenoids (or where they would be if you've had them removed; this you can see is a bit of tissue that hangs down from the top of your throat cavity and extends down the sides; you can reach behind it), then turning your hand to reach just a tiny bit superior with a crooked finger. At this point, you palpate for this groove and with one movement of your finger, you simply wipe it out and gently massage the soft tissue in the area. You wouldn't want to overwork this area, as the tissue is quite soft, and I can imagine it could get irritated and tender fairly easily.
Once the goop is dislodged, delicious mucus will run freely, as there is probably a lot of years of goo built up. Decongestants will facilitate this process. Some guaifenesin and psedoephedrine would work nicely. I also used a nasal decongestant spray to help clear my sinuses out.
This process sounds gross and painful or at least gag-worthy, but it really sounds a lot more complicated and worse than it is. If you're careful, you won't trigger your gag reflex. If you do, don't fret. If the worst thing that happens to you all day is triggering your gag reflex once, then I say you've had a pretty good day.
My head has been draining fairly well, and I can hear probably 30% better out of my right ear already. I'll probably do a follow-up treatment again in a few days, giving the area long enough to settle down before poking around with my finger again.
Amazing how many years of impaired hearing can be corrected in 6 seconds!
To repay you for posting this, I wanted to make sure you knew about the earpopper -- I believe its an 'old school' technology (read the main testimonial on the site) in a new school form. Hope it helps..
Also, just out of curiousity, did you have any noises/ringing when you had the problem .. has the procedure kept you eustachian tubes clear?
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