Friday, October 7, 2011

Say that ten times fast

My friends, you are about to be schooled. I've been diagnosed. Yesterday after finally getting in to see the ENT, he diagnosed my waves of dizziness/ear issues as Patulous Eustachian tube. (Sounds dirty, doesn't it?) All this time, after talking with Kari, I'd been thinking it might be Meniere's Disease, but apparently what I've been feeling (that I might fall over and with waves of fuzziness in my extremities, and pulsing sounds in my ears) is not vertigo. Vertigo is the feeling that the room is spinning, not that you are spinning. Who knew?

What does patulous eustachian tube (PET) mean? 

Patulous means open, gaping, expanded
Eustachian tube means a canal extending from the middle ear to the pharynx; auditory canal

A rare physical disorder where the Eustachian tube, which is normally closed, instead stays intermittently open. When this occurs, the patient experiences autophony, the hearing of self-generated sounds. These sounds, such as one's own breathing, voice, and heartbeat, vibrate directly onto the ear drum and can create a "bucket on the head" effect.

Ready for some really disturbing images?

Here's a diagram of the ear and what happens when the E tube is working ok.

Lesson learned: The inside of the ear looks really really disgusting.

So, after hearing all of this, I asked the doctor the ten million dollar question, "Is there a way to fix this?" The answer is that there are minor surgeries that can be done, or I could try gaining five pounds, or whenever I feel it lay down or use lubricating nose spray. I can tell you that I refuse to gain weight on purpose, so that one's out. For now I'm going to try the laying down and the nose spray. My gut feeling is that this will do nothing for it, but you never know. I have a follow-up appointment in January.

So remember up there when it says this is a rare condition? Yeah, story of my life. Here are some other facts about PET:
  • The average age is 30 years, with a female prevalence
    (Interesting. I'm a female and will be turning 30 in two short months.)
  • Fatty tissues hold the tube closed most of the time in healthy individuals
    (Mmm...fatty tissue)
  • Substances which dehydrate the body are also possible causes of patulous Eustachian tube. Examples are stimulants (including caffeine) and exercise
    (...and so I'm still staying off caffeine and sodium. I miss coffee so much.)
  • In extreme cases surgical intervention may attempt to "bulk up" the Eustachian tube tissues with fat, gel foam, or cartilage or scar it closed with cautery. These methods are not always successful.
    (I have a feeling I'm stuck with this forever.)

The things that make all this seem ok?

Yes, we're snuggling. What's it to you?

Mom mom mom mom pet me mom mom mom mom.


  1. So exercise makes it worse and getting fat is good? You ma'am have contracted my husband's dream disease.

  2. So we aren't disease twins, but we are still both walking disasters. Win?

    The puppy pictures are making me feel better too.

  3. Well this is just a big fat boo. Sorry to hear about it, but at least it has an official diagnosis. 5 pounds isn't too bad if it would help--could you try it, and then always take them back off if there is no positive change from it?

  4. Well I am so glad to hear you don't have Meniere's - that is a whole other horror. Getting this PET diagnosis is good - you can deal with this.

    I have had some problems in this area myself and my ENT told me perhaps Meniere's a few years ago after I was experienceing dizziness and fell down once... it turns out I have to keep inflammation and stress at bay and have had no problems since.

    Ears? weird for sure.

    Your pups are adorable.

  5. I'm glad to hear that you have an action plan now! I hope the lubricating nose spray works!

  6. So, does the gaining 5lbs help build the fatty tissue? I'm unclear on the problem - eat more cookies, feel better, that sounds like a win win to me. 5lb isn't even noticeable. I'm glad you at least have a diagnosis and some options - and no topless treadmill running! Score!

  7. I feel like gaining 5lb does not guarantee that it will result in some extra ear fatty tissue. +5lb for me would end up somewhere in my midsection. Or maybe it would mean growing some of my boobs back that running has taken away from me. Husband had ear surgery by an otolaryngolgist (sp?) Multiple times for perforated ear drum. Luckily the 3rd? 4th? Attempt a few years ago worked. But I'm a little skeeved by how they get in your ear (incision behind ear). Anyway I'd def try the least invasive options first too! Hope they help.

  8. Yeah, I'd be great at having your ear condition! That sucks though and surgery is just no fun. Oh, and if you thought those pictures were bad, you should see some of the stuff people put up in seminar talks here. It's...graphic.

  9. One of my friends is going through this too. Doesn't sound fun at all! I had a bad dizzy spell last Thanksgiving and the doctors just said "vertigo" and that they hate diagnosing it as that because there's not much they can do. I have spells every now and again but nothing like the worst one last November. Hope you start to feel better soon.

    Pippi is too cute for words!

  10. I'm glad you've got some answers. Knowing is better than the unknown, for sure!!

    don't be afraid of fat though. Trust me, women are DESIGNED and MEANT TO have some. It's not as scary as it seems!