Breathing through the ears

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Thunderchild | 19:38 Sun 18th Dec 2011 | Body & Soul
17 Answers
Now I know this may be an odd one and before I am told yes i know that a doctor is supposed to be best and so far they have been not what I'd hoped...

Well apart from being born with a hair lip and a cleft pallet I was also continually fitted with grommets as a kid due to wax blockages. Well an adult now and I go through various stages of more or less wax etc. I am not sure if it is the wax or if it is linked to issues with the cleft pallet and my ability (or sometimes lack of) to breath through my nose but there seem to be days when I hear more or less and my ears feel more or less blocked. I generally find that if i can breath through my nose which is easier now due to an op a year ago my ears feel better.

Since i was a kid i can remember that if I blew my nose really hard my ears would pop, it would be a short instant of pain but I would then hear a lot better (I never did it intentionally due to the pain but it would just happen from time to time). In time I have also learnt to do something to my ears that normally happens when you swallow, I can do it without the swallowing and it seems to some what help when i think i have wax, I think i must be flexing some sort of muscle in my ear or nearby that moves things around, I had tried experimenting with controlling which ear I "flex" as I automatically do both but well who cares doing both is fine.

Now sometimes when i think I have wax but it is loosening (this is all based on my impression it may not even be wax but something else) I find that breathing out of my nose hard creates a sensation in my ears like i am breathing out of them as well and hearing is a bit better while i breath out (again I can enhance it sort of like help this to happen based on "swallowing movements). for the first time the other day i did the reverse, I breathed in and if doing a certain grimace I found that it felt like a plug was being sucked over a hole in my ear and my perception of hearing went down a bit, this just happened coincidentally, I think it was something like twitching my nose real bad so i was probably closing my nose off.

So what am I experiencing ? is this all normal and I'm some how fretting over nothing ? (well just curious actually).

The op I had done last year was to work on my pallet to make it easier for me to breath through my nose as it was obstructed, I actually wanted this done more than anything because i found that as soon as i could not breath easily through my nose due to a slight cold (for some reason i can blow and blow and nothing comes out but it feels blocked) my ears would feel blocked, I'd not hear as well and feel "groggy" - I hate winter infact although since being operated i can breath most of the time through my nose so I feel a lot better and able to get on with a day with ease instead of wanting to just go back to bed.


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Sounds like your eustachian tubes:

I wouldn't do this too much in case you damage your hearing.
All you`re doing with the blowing and swallowing hard technique is opening your eustachian tubes. It`s nothing to do with wax. All the action is going on the other side of the ear drum. I can open and close my eustachian tubes in the manner you describe. I can open them by the yawning action in the throat without actually yawning or opening my mouth. You are obviously prone to mucus in your tubes which you get when you have a cold (as many people do). Did you have glue ear as a child? That would have been what the grommets were for (not wax). I`m not really sure what your question is but it all sounds pretty normal to me.
Question Author
Ah, i suspected that this was not just about wax, I'll give the wiki a read

Mosaic, what should I not do as it could damage my hearing ?

237SJ - Glad to hear I am more or less normal
Probably the blowing hard while holding your nose. Every time you do that you put a bit of pressure on the eardrum. I`m not sure whether it would damage your hearing (my eardrums regularly get quite a battering) but it`s not really advisable. If you need to equalize the pressure on your eardrums, it can be a bit of a last resort but only done gently. Blowing hard won`t do your eardrums any good.
Cleft palate patients have two problems..........a shortened Eustachian tube and a predisposition to glue ear.
From your history I would suggest that you may have perforated ear drums or at best paper thin ear drums

What you are doing is inflating your Eustachian Tubes and the force is passing through your ear drums and improving your hearing.

Carry on this harm will come.
....artificially increasing pressure inside the inner ear. Not something you should do unless absolutely necessary and then only very carefully.
Question Author
aha -pressure equalization, this is the key to a lot, I generally feel weather changes and often know in advance that a change is going to happen (never really know if for better or worse just know a drastic change) because my ears feel more or less blocked, although from what I gather this is not about a blockage of wax, perhaps my eustachian tubes are often blocked and pressure takes more time than normal to equalize, I have had flying experiences in the past where I was near deaf for over an hour after landing and in pain
It's called the Valsalva Manoeuvre.
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sqad, why may i have perforated ear drums ? is this normal ? what part of what I describe does it relate to. My hearing is deemed to be normal by the doctor although the doctor is not there to test my hearing when I'm feeling all bunged up at work.

I also find that the cold does not go down well on me and i try and wear a hat with side bits that strap up under my chin.

I also find that on some days i find a lot of noise a little disorientating and that bass sounds can be irritating. I find that sounds you cannot even hear make me tired for example I used to work at a printers and printing 300 gramme paper (card to the lay man) made me feel unwell because i would be near a machine passing 3 6 sq foot sheets of the stuff around and it would flap about no doubt creating pressure waves that were not audible but i could feel them (I used to where head phones).

I find that I physically feel low pitch sounds as much as hear them and dislike a lot of unnecessary low frequency noise (think some peoples idea of stereo systems), Although I take please in listening to my musing on a competent set of speakers that can produce a normal level of bass where applicable.
Question Author
Valsalva Manoeuvre - interesting, yes that is the one. and reading about it reminds me of another thing, I just cannot blow ballons up neither can I snorkle, what am i missing ?
You may not have perforated ear drums..........but my guess is that you may well have..........not uncommon following Grommet tube insertion.
Sorry...pressed submit button before I had finished.

I assume that yourself have has audimetric evaluation andnyou are lucky if your hearing is perfectly normal.

Your intolerance to low frequency sounds also leads me to suspect that one or both ears are perforated.

Your hearing mechanism is never going to be functioning perfectly, but good enough to get you through life.

Continue to inflate your Eustachian tubes whenever you feel the need.
Question Author
I see, yes i probably do come to think of it. My situation was slightly complicated by going to live in Italy for 14 years when i was 10. I remember being taken to the hospital once because my ears were in pain and the doctor said that my air drums were holed, My dad thought I may have done it trying to get wax out of my ears but when I saw a specialist he found i had set 3 of my grommets and a special set still in there and they should have been taken out. you see my grommets kept coming out, they were supposed to come out when ready but always fell out too soon so after two misfires a "special" pair were fitted that would have to be removed...... but we went to italy.

So where exactly are grommets fitted and how do they get put in ?
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ah just saw the rest, yes that makes sense. My last ear test that I asked for resulted in being about normal (although as i said it varies) although having a guy sitting in the same room pressing the buttons was kind of stupid because I realized that I could hear him pressing buttons and that was aiding me as i expected a sound or infact I may have pressed the button to say I could hear by reflex on hearing him press a button - A bit of a stupid method of doing a hearing test really, I should have been completely isolated for the test.
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hang on what exactly does perforated ear drum mean ? if there is a hole through then the pressure will always equalize, are we talking about some of the membrane covering the bone being damaged but it is all still "sound" (not sure if pun intended lol). I am afraid that I look at these things somewhat "mechanically".

What I do not understand is if i go to a doctor complaining of a blocked ear and he/she cannot find wax then why don't they look into the possibility of it being glue ear, I mean i feel like I'm doing the doctors job here (as are those who are kindly helping me with my quest for information)
Grommets are slipped into the eardrum with one opening to the outer ear and the other opening to the middle ear. Many types of Grommets and the length of stay depends upon the type and dexterity of the surgeon.
The longer the stay, the better........I have never heard of Grommets thatvhad to be taken out.

You are doing fine............
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Oh I see so basically the grommet does the work of the eustachian tubes at the cost of damaging an ear drum slightly but at least it means you can hear rather than go deaf. so do I actually have a hole through my drums now or is this some damage that is referred to as a hole ? I mean if i had an actual hole I'd not have the problem (but for wax)

Well my 3rd set of grommets were permanent I was told. The other two fell out within weeks of being fitted so after the 2 attempts they went for these special ones that had to be taken out, in fact they stayed in for some years until i got an infection and was seen by a specialist who found them and removed them

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Breathing through the ears

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