Hello all, I'm new to the community so bear with me as I'm searching high and low for help! Hope SOMEONE here can.... PLEASE...

I have some issues that seem to stem from dehydration perhaps, but definitely congestion (same?)... which trouble me and have for years... since I was young, which I think has only gotten worse. I currently suffer from ALL of its bad effects: Trouble breathing, lightheadedness/dizziness, anxiety, seldom mild headaches, bad breath, impaired speech, dry, airy or low-volume voice, lump-in-the-throat, cotton or pasty-mouth and/or chapped lips, and hearing loss... and ultimately depression, because of all of these effects- many occuring simultaneously and sometimes intensely and debilitating, but usually only subtle, but incredibly annoying. Here are the issues and/or points of interest that could help you understand my distress:

1. Despite drinking an average of about a liter of water per day (I carry the 1.5L bottle of Poland Spring Water with me to work everyday and usually finish it by the end of the day or at home), I get congested daily, some days less than others. During times when others complain of allergies, it does seem a little bit worse, but I deal with this all year round so it's hard to tell sometimes.

2. I've been through about 2-3 nasal spray addictions in the past 5 years or so. I no longer use it but occasionally when breathing is tough, I use Claritin-D, which works, but has almost the same effect as nasal spray where it clears you up while active but when it wares off, you feel almost worse than before you took it. I try not to take more than 2-3 12hr pills per week. When I take it, even though my nasal passage is clear (but sometimes runny nose), the mucus that would have been in my sinuses moves down to my throat and seems to stay there. Liquids, food or constant swallowing does not help this, only hacking it up and spitting it, which is obviously not something I wish to constantly do. This leads to difficulty breathing, lightheadedness, headaches, bad breath.... and anxiety. Not being able to breathe normally makes you anxious/nervous, involuntarily. It's not really a matter of being calm or relaxed, it's more like being out of breath and your heartbeat increases to bring oxygen to the body... but you kinda feel wired like after drinking strong coffee.

3. I've read that congestion in the E-N-T system can lead to hearing loss from blockage somewhere in the ear system, possibly from the throat's connection to the ear canal inside your head (bacteria build-up behind the drum..? don't remember exactly..?). For example, when chewing something crunchy, you can hear it from inside your head a little bit louder. This is what my ears are like right now, one worse than the other, and it's constant, but gets worse when I'm more congested. It's been this way for at least 2 years. I believe deaf people talk funny because they cannot hear themselves clearly and I think this happens with my own speech sometimes. The "lump-in-the-throat" (mucus accumulation) also seems to affect speech because I often sound monotone or dry-voiced and have difficulty articulating and must fequently clear my throat which is obviously annoying.

4. I went to an ENT this morning only to be incredibly disappointed, spending $185 bucks (I'm not insured) to learn that my ear, which feels clogged, is "fine". Noone can tell me it is normal or "fine" because I can hear inside my head!! He did pull a tiny piece of wax out but it made almost no difference whatsoever. They did the air pressure test and sound test but my other ear was actually deemed worse than the clogged one!! That ear seems ok to me, but even that one sounds slightly clogged sometimes when I'm pretty congested and between Claritin pills. He mentioned he's more "careful" with self-paid patients so I'm guessing that since I don't have insurance I'm more a risk of not being able to afford a more rediculous line of other testing he can run up a bill with to an insurance company. So I'm at a loss in that respect too- can't even get fully tested, so I'm "fine" as he put it, without any further testing. "See me in 6 months", he says, "or come sooner if it gets much worse". I'm partially deaf right now!!!

5. As a test, I stopped drinking milk about 2 weeks ago. Not one drop. I cut back on cheese intake and also sweets. Not much of a noticeable difference.

6. Some related ailments: I've had a few ear infections, and strep throat a few times; I took a vacation to Texas 3 years ago and the plane pressure became painful in the air and made me deaf for a little while in one ear after we landed. Then I got in a pool a few days later and was deaf for the rest of the day (took a long time for it to finally "pop"). I've taken showers and water got in my ear and I couldn't hear well or at all in the ear. I've tried Debrox, Murine to no avail. If anything, the drops may have made it worse, I'm guessing because of the liquid effect in my ear like the pool water & shower.

SO... with all this ^^ said, here are some really imporatnt questions:

1. Is there some way of flushing out the ear canal behind the drum?? Some alternative to Debrox-like eardrops? Stuff seems a little greasy to me anyway...
2. With all the water I drink, why does it seem like it goes straight through me? How can I hydrate myself so I don't get congested like this?
3. I went to the same ENT years ago and he squirted some liquid up my nose and immediately cleared it. Even nasal spray takes about 10 minutes to work. What was that stuff?? Is it available in stores?
4. Is there any simple doctorless way to solve any or all of this???

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replied July 30th, 2009
Still stuck and frustrated....
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