Ear Barotrauma for Everyday Equalizing through Swallowing, Yawning, Etc.?

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Salt Lake City, Utah
First of all I have actually never done any diving in my life, and I am essentially on this forum looking for help related to ear barotrauma injuries as the inner ear specialist I visited to have failed to provide any insight (or take my problems seriously). Neither have any other ENT's I have visited.

Onto the problem. I essentially seem to get barotrauma like experiences from a lot of everyday events that only remotely open up my eustacian tube and equalize my ears. Yawning, swallowing (it seems that I swallow too strongly without my control), doing anything to squeeze my ears (yawning again, burping, avoiding loud noise by sqeezing ear muscles tight), all seem to over-pressurize my middle ear in a way that results in either middle or inner ear injury.
Doing anything to manipulate my external ear seems to do this too. Stuffing earplugs up my ears causes pain deep in my ears, and sleeping on one of my ears, or even disturbing the outer ear canal (scratching it, lightly pressing on it from below, plugging it with fingers to avoid noise), all set off what appears to be barotrauma.
I also have become very sensitive to pressure changes from driving up hills, flying on airplanes, going down the stairs etc. which never bothered me a great deal before unless I had a cold.

From each event as described above, it feels as if my eustacian tubes explode and my eardrums grossly retract, which then results in pain deep in my ears, loud tinnitus, ear fullness and (trapped air?), muffled hearing, and migraine-like aches all around my temples and in my ears; it hurts a lot. Sometimes I can also get vertigo and dizziness. My extreme sensitivty to self induced pressure changes, or those that occur naturally in the natural environment, has also resulted in a noticeable decline in my hearing over the past month (at least 5 db-10 db in many frequencies according to a very recent audiogram).

These problems all seemed to have started a month ago from gently using the Toynbee maneuver, and strong yawning, for ears that otherwise seemed stuffy 24/7 and unable to properly equalize on their own. I had already felt a constant, alternating pressure imbalance between my ears and this always seemed to help, initially. At some point it seemed that I got way too much pressure or fluid in one of my ears, which resulted in me pressing (with moderate force) into the ear canal via the tragus (earflap?) to try to open the E. tubes. That completely backfired and ate up some of my hearing and made me very dizzy.

Ever since then, despite completely abandoning both habits, I have been unnaturally sensitive to pressure changes to the point where everyday life is compromised. I have to prevent myself from yawning these days, and have to be very careful when I even swallow, which is extremely hard to do given these are natural reactions and not always under conscious control.
But at the same time, I do not enjoy how swallowing, yawning, wearing earplugs, or even scratching my ear canals all seem to be slowly making me deaf and giving me extended periods pain and dizziness.

Anyone know of any techniques of how to modify my swallowing or other habits to prevent these injuries from happening again? Perhaps even remedies for certain types of barotrauma, even potentially medication that could allow for better E. tube functioning? Any tips would be very helpful for how I can prevent hurting myself further, as I am fairly clueless for what to do.

Also, as some background information, I don't have a fistula or any injury of the sort, at least from what I have been told according to fistula and balance tests . However, atypical Meniere's disease or hydrops was never exactly ruled out in my case, and I do suffer from vestibular migraines that could possibly explain the extreme pressure sensitivity.

Duke Dive Medicine

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Durham, North Carolina

I'm sorry to hear about this. It must be a maddening problem. I'm a tinnitus sufferer myself and have had to give up diving because of apparent sensitivity to pressure changes. Unfortunately, your issue seems way too complex to provide an answer to your question online. Your Eustachian tube function should be evaluated as part of a thorough in-person workup by a good ENT physician. It sounds like you've had that workup already, so if the ENT you've been seeing hasn't given you a satisfactory answer, you may want to consider a second opinion.

Best regards,

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