Apr 4, 2011, 10:24 PM
Post #1 of 19
Last year, I had 4 ear infections in 9 months. They were all subsequent to airplane rides and rapid changes in altitude. Once I found a doctor who would refer me to an ENT, I quickly got an ear tube. It has been blissful to make several loads in a weekend and not have a single pop, twinge, or lingering ache.
However, the tube is supposed to fall out within 6 months to a year. Near as I can tell, there's still a hole in my ear drum (ears don't pop on the way to altitude). The ENT said that I could end up having a second surgery to put in another tube. I could also be one of the lucky ones that sees permanent results from the first surgery. He happily noted that he's never seen a skydiver before so the entire procedure would be a neat experiment.
I'm curious if anyone here has ever had an ear tube surgery as an adult and, if so, did you ultimately require a second tube after the first one fell out? Here's hoping I'm not the only person who needed a surgery meant for toddlers.
I've almost no experience w/this area. I do know there are some Patients who end up w/permanent tubes placed in their ears. Other than water precautions, they're fine. Was any underlying cause for the fluid build up found?
I'd be interested in your long term results, since I also have problems with one ear getting fluid after almost every time I jump. It usually limits me to 1 - 3 jumps on any given trip to the dz, and makes jump #'s build very slowly. PITA, for sure! Are you involved much in aquatic sports? I was told that due several of my other hobbies involving water, I was not a good candidate for the tube.
My eustachian tube in the right ear is shaped differently from the left, so the fluid would always build up since it couldn't drain properly. After the second ear infection, I had a nasty reaction to oral antibiotics and can no longer take them. The tube has been the best thing that could have happened to me.
The doctor mentioned a permanent ear tube to me, and I'd rather do that than go back to infections. But that surgery made me woozy. It'd be sweet to avoid it, but I've got my priorities straight.
You are right about the water sports. I'm not currently involved in scuba diving or much of anything having to do with water. With the way I felt after getting the tube, I'd happily tell you I'd rather avoid water sports the rest of my life to skydive comfortably.
It sounds like your ear is a lot like mine. Sometimes it would get infected and wouldn't even hurt, but I couldn't hear anything out of it. I periodically wore an ear plug in noisy places after the surgery because the world became very, very loud.
I got my first set of tubes in 1st grade 30+ years ago, and off and on until finally a permanent one finally stayed in about 5 years ago, right before I started jumping. (I've had 15 surgeries done on different parts)
I haven't had any issues due to jumping, no crackling, popping, ringing, etc. It's great on the high altitude jumps when everyone else is chomping on gum! My ENT did recommend that if I have any congestion to use afrin to dry everything up before jumping, esp during allergy season.
I have had sinus surgery. That worked great for years. Then I had tubes put in (I was in my 50s) a few years back. That worked great for two seasons, but I'm also a scuba diver and I never thought of how that affected me until i stuck my head underwater. YIKES!
After a few years the tubes fell out and I haven't problems since. I have no clue why, but I'm counting my blessings.
A friend had middle ear surgery a few years back. She was very dizzy afterward. It passed within a few hours. Like I said. I've very little experience in this area. Some people need permanent tubes put in. Other than water precautions. I'm not aware of any other negative effects from them. Good Luck.
A "permanent" tube is a T-tube. Shouldn't fall out unless they take it out. Also, my ENT says that the longer you have your existing tube in, the lesser the chance the hole will heal back over. Anything more than a year and you've got a decent shot at the hole not closing back up. That's what Im shooting for now. I'm 9 months in on my latest tube, so we'll see if the hole remains open once the tube is removed on month 12.
Every time I've jumped a lot in short amount of time while not having a tube, my eardrum ruptures. Never fun when you're on the ride to altitude and fluid starts dripping out of your ear. Quite painful the first time it ruptures if it's been a while and it had healed back up, less so every time thereafter. Still, I'll take an ear tube over rupturing my eardrum every other month...
Having an ear drum rupture is pain like I cannot describe. I agree that having the tube (or tube after tube after tube) is a desirable alternative. I'm 11 months in with my tube and at 9 months it still had not fallen out. I need to have it checked again, but it is good to hear that the hole is less likely to close back up after a prolonged period of having it open.
Since yours seems to have ruptured far more than mine, I am curious about your hearing? Have you had it tested recently?
I am going through this right now. I made four jumps two days ago and my left ear still feels like it's at altitude. This has never been an issue before so i didn't really know what to think about it. On my last jump when i got under canopy the first thing i noticed was that i felt like someone was stabbing me in the ear & i haven't been able to clear it yet. Don't have any drainage so that's good but this whole situation sux ass considering i was planning on four mor jumps in two days!!
You might not yet have a problem. My ears used to take days to clear after my earliest jumps. They then got better @equalizing. By making four jumps back to back. You may well have simply done too much, too soon. Are you congested? Do you get seasonal allergies? Tis the season for it. You can try an OTC antihistamine/decongestant like Claritin-D or Zyrtec-D.
I don't notice a difference in everyday life, but there's things like a noticeable difference in volume between my ears when I use headphones. If my good ear clogs after a jump I have a hard time understanding people. One of the strangest things is that it can be hard for me to pick out the direction of a sound if I can't see the source. But, I've had that hearing loss since I had tubes when I was a kid, way before I started jumping. I've had them tested annually since I started jumping, and my current ENT hasn't mentioned anything about it deteriorating. So... it's hard for me to say. I'll ask him during my next appointment.
No allergies, no congestion & took a zyrtec anyway. I'm married to a physicians assistant and her diagnoses is exactly what you said, to much to soon. I made 10 jumps in 3 days. She knew i wanted to jump today & knows i won't jump another rig so she took mine and hid it. Anyway good news is it's better now and the clouds have rolled in anyway so i'll just enjoy a day of sit flyin on the couch!
Just be mindful of how it feels. I thought that mine was a case of "too much too soon" and I saw some alleviation of symptoms with allergy meds. Ultimately, the eustachian tube is not shaped properly to drain all the way. I found the stuffiness lasted longer and longer and would frequently turn to infection.
That said, getting the tube really has been the best thing that could have happened to me. I hope yours clears up, but please get it checked if it doesn't! An ear drum rupture isn't worth it.