ETD After a Cold: My Experience and Some Tips

Posted , 10 users are following.

I've had two prolonged bouts of ETD in recent years and found my GPs to be unhelpful, so I wanted to write a bit about my experience and offer some tips to fellow sufferers on this forum. I know there are existing threads on this theme but thought I'd start my own because my ETD is maybe a bit less serious than for some of the others on the forum.

I often get muffled hearing during and after a cold, and twice in recent years this muffled hearing has lasted for months. When I say 'muffled hearing' I'd guess I'm talking about roughly 80% hearing loss. I have hearing loss in my left ear permanently, so when my right ear gets ETD I find it extremely hard to understand anyone and would need the TV turned up to a ridiculous volume in order to watch a programme.

On the first occasion I had ETD, I'd guess it lasted for two months. The second time, when it really started to bother me, it lasted for four months, from January to April. On both occasions the ETD was caused by nothing more than a common cold. So my tips are for those who get ETD in similar circumstances, rather than those who've had ETD caused by an accident, or who have suffered from persistent ETD for years on end.

I found it helpful to understand that my eustachian tube was blocked and that my goal was to unblock it. This meant (and sorry to get a bit gross here) getting as much mucus out of my nose and throat as possible. Decongestants can help, of course, but they also have a rebound effect, so it's not recommended that you take them for more than about a week. My experience is that Otrivine can actually cause ETD if you use it too much. I also avoid those nasal sprays that claim to stop a cold in its tracks. They work by bunging you up, which is exactly what ETD sufferers want to avoid.

The most effective way of getting mucus out of my system was to steam my head over a bowl of menthol flakes. Put half a teaspoon of menthol flakes or crystals into a bowl containing about 300 ml of hot water. Put a towel over your head and over the bowl to create a kind of tent and trap the vapour in. And sit there and inhale the menthol vapour for 10 minutes. I did this twice a day for four months. I'd blow my nose several times during and after the steaming and I'd feel the tube unblocking as I did so. Sometimes my ear would pop as I blew my nose and my hearing would return for a few minutes. Eventually I could guarantee that my hearing would return briefly every time I steamed my head with menthol. Then it returned for half an hour instead of a few minutes; then for an hour; then for a whole morning. You get the picture. I stuck at it and eventually my hearing returned permanently. (Until the next time I get a cold, of course).

Apart from the menthol steaming, I've found it helpful to do two other things. First, I now make it a habit to blow my nose whenever I need to. This is silly, but I was brought up not to blow my nose in public in case it offended anyone. Now, I carry tissues everywhere and if I need to blow my nose, I blow it. I won't allow myself to get bunged up unnecessarily. Secondly, I sleep with two pillows under my head every night. This helps your eustachian tube to drain naturally overnight, so you don't wake up bunged up.

Sorry to have written so much on a very simple solution: menthol flakes! But because it's so obvious, and doesn't need a prescription, and because it takes a long time to work, I think some of you might overlook it. The main thing I want to say is not to lose heart, and to keep at it. I've found that other people, including GPs, massively underestimate how debilitating the condition is. It destroyed my family life for the four months I had it and made my job impossibly difficult. But eventually, for most of us, it does go away. 

Good luck!

4 likes, 10 replies

10 Replies

  • Posted

    Thank you so much for the tips. I have been suffering from ETD for a few months after a horrible cold. I tried plain steam one night and then called it quits. I will be trying this for sure. Funny enough, I have another cold now and have been on antibiotics and been blowing my nose like crazy. My ETD is BETTER! I have no clue why, perhaps my second cold did something to the tube. Regardless, your words are very nice to hear. I know all too well the struggle and the toll it takes on family and job. Good Luck.
  • Posted

    hi, i have a blocked right ear and i also suffer from pressure in my head (sometimes i feel it above my ear and sometimes i feel it all over) also sometimes i have a sensitive back of my head. My ears pop constantly and when i get in the car and drive it feels like im on a plane (if that makes any sense) i also have a high pitched noise but it souns like its in the opposite ear. been feeling quite lightheaded as if my balance is off. Im scared incase its something serious and just wondering if it sounds like what youve went through. colleen
    • Posted

      Hi Colleen,

      I had a high-pitched noise in my ear, but not the other symptoms. I wouldn't worry about it, but obviously see a GP and they can put your mind at rest.

      Hope you're better soon!


    • Posted

      hi colleen73.

      google chiari malformation type one. 

      I have all of those symptoms and found out I had a brain condition. I believe my condition tributes to my ear and sinus issues hense the reason I am reading this message board.


  • Posted

    Thank you so much for these tips!

    My story is very similar to yours. I've not hearrd of menthol flakes before but I will look for something similar if

    I don't find any .

    Fingers crossed as I am really struggling with pressure in the ear which m.y consultant has diagnosed as a symptom of migrane disorder.

  • Posted

    Did you read yhat post abive about vitamin a deficency? Im trying to figure this all out too. Ents arent helpful on online they say all this stuff they do. My said it will fix on its own but takes a long time. Meanwhile im miserable here. 
  • Posted

    I had an awful time over the last 4 months. In a moment of madness, I stupidly misused a nasal rinse and applied pressure up my nose. (dumb i know). Had problems ever since. Left cheek numb, inner ear pain, crunchy feeling. Headache, muffled hearing. It has brought me to the brink and a low I havent experienced for many years. Doctors just give you the blow off, got an appointment at the ENT in 8 weeks but couldnt cope so went private. £200 for a doctor to do nothing. Trying to get my life back on track being out of work but very hard to do this when in this much pain.

    Come across this article today so got some menthol crystals and been inhaling. Doctors don`t even really want to try to diagnose the problem. May not even be the Eustachian tubes but I gotta try something.

    Any other advice very much welcomed. x

  • Posted

    Hi guys

    well its a relief to read this , i to have been suffering terrible with what my GP tells me is blocked Eustachian tubes

    i have had chronic sinus issues for yrs also suffer from allergies , however since having this issue with my ears my sinuses actually feel completely clear ? is that odd?

    my symptoms are as follows

    pressure like im on a plane in both ears

    my right ear when i beltch triggers a thumping noise which can last for hours , drives me mad !!

    Also have ringing/crackling in both ears

    I to was going to go private , pay £180 consultation fee for 15 minutes !

    I would be so grateful if somebody could get back to me here if they to have had the same type of symptoms as me

    The belch triggering the thumping is the strangest one but i guess its all linked

    Many thanks


    • Posted

      Hi Scott I'm having the same problems as you with the ringing, crackling but that thumping in my ears is most definitely the worst out of them. It can last an hour upto a whole day and upto days on end. Have you managed to resolve yours?

      Take care,


  • Posted

    Thank you for sharing this natural tip. Just ordered some menthol crystals and can't wait to try it. Hope I can be as diligent as you to keep doing it until I may see some relief.

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