So today is day number eight that I am off work. The doctor has signed me off as I spend another day at home in agony, bored and fed up.
Eight weeks ago, I developed a really itchy and sore ear, that didn’t go away. After a trip to the doctors, they told me I didn’t have classic ear infection signs, as I didn’t have a temperature and, apart from the annoying ear, was fine otherwise. However, they prescribed me a spray with an antibiotic in, that frankly, just made my ear blocked and the irritation no better. I used the spray for the course they told me, but was so irritated with the blocked ear that I used an at-home ear syringe, that unblocked the ear immediately and also all irritation was gone. I realise self-syringing was probably risky, but the blocked ear was so frustrating and I couldn’t get a doctors appointment for another week and a half, so was desperate to try anything.
Then, fast forwarding about six weeks, just before Christmas, I caught a virus/cold type thing going round. I had a fever, was tired, weak, had a tickly cough and blocked nose and developed another irritated ear. The doctor said I’d probably developed an ear infection due to the weakened immune system from the virus/cold, and sent me away with the same spray as last time. I completed the week’s course with it again, and my ear was better. I had about four or five days of bliss, before the pain started again. After three more days, the pain was much worse and keeping me awake at night. Ibuprofen wasn’t doing much, so on the fourth day I went back to the doctors again. They said it was definitely an infection this time and could be that I’d caught a third infection, or that the original one had never fully gone and it was just coming back stronger after each course of antibiotic spray. I’d also developed a rash all over my chest. So, I was prescribed antibiotic ear drops, which also had a steroid, and told to use it for five days. By day four, the pain was much worse still, so I went back to the doctor who then said we’d have to try an oral antibiotic as one of the last resorts. My ear was so swollen that it had completely swelled shut and the doctor couldn’t even take a look inside.
I had read somewhere before that oral antibiotics can flare up Hashimoto’s, but was so desperate to get rid of the ear infection that I didn’t really care too much.
Well, I started them the next day, and, apart from the ear pain, was fine.
Day two, I woke up in a right state. All I remember is that the room was moving and nothing felt real. It was as if I was dreaming. Everything felt very surreal and I was overly emotional. I had a fever and so I think the infection was maybe fighting back. My other half said I wasn’t making much sense in what I was saying.
Day two of the antibiotics, I woke up feeling incredibly hypothyroid. Symptoms I haven’t had this bad since I was on Levothyroxine over a year ago now; pure fatigue, excruciating aches and pains and even a migraine. I think the antibiotics maybe triggered this, and luckily I still have some Sumatriptan from the doctor that I could take to halt it. I also still had a fever. I was so unwell that I wasn’t able to get myself to the toilet all day, and we have a toilet on the same floor. I was so fatigued and in so much pain. I had next to no appetite, too. My other half came home with some probiotics he picked up from a health store, so I started taking these to support my gut, on advice from other Hashimoto’s patients. On the other hand, at least my ear was much better. No longer swollen, sore or itchy.
Day three, I was a little better though not much. The aches and pains weren’t quite as bad although my energy levels were still through the floor. I didn’t eat all day until 4pm when I eventually had an appetite. I’d been thirsty since I started the antibiotics so had been drinking lots of water all week, mind. I woke up from a nap midday absolutely dripping in sweat from the fever, but come the evening, I didn’t have a fever anymore. I think the probiotics were starting to help.
Now, day four on the antibiotics, I still feel unwell but I definitely feel on the mend. Still rather weak, fatigued and achey, I can make it around the house better and I definitely have my appetite back. I spoke to my doctor this morning who agreed that antibiotics can flare up autoimmune conditions and that taking the probiotics was a sensible idea. He’s not surprised they’ve helped. He said I won’t feel loads better until I complete the course on Tuesday and even then might take a few weeks to return back to good health, and he’s also glad to hear the ear is much better.
According to the pharmacist I spoke to, the idea with probiotics being helpful, is that the antibiotics kill off both good and bad gut flora, whereas probiotics add some back in, which helps prevent you from being so open to things like Candida after you’ve finished the course. They can also help support your body through the course, as they seem to be doing so for me. The important thing to note is to take the probiotic at least two hours after the antibiotic so they don’t cancel each other out, and this seems to have worked well for me.
I have searched online for any possible connection between thyroid problems and ear infections, but haven’t found much. Hypothyroid Mom states it as a hypothyroid symptom here, so I have emailed her to ask if she has further information. I’ll let you know if I hear back. I believe it is possible that if the nose is congested, like when I had the virus/cold type thing in December, that fluid can be trapped in the eustachian tube and cause pressure pain, which could have been linked to the ear pain I had back then.
For now, I seem to be on the mend and hope to return to work on Monday. I’ve felt unwell now for almost a whole month!
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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six WEGO Award Nominations, a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying to become a Life Coach, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community and has relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology, Motivational Speaking and Positive Thinking.