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Ten years ago my mom had radiation to her epiglottis and now suffers from severe ear pain.

By February 22, 2010 - 8:12pm
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Her ear pain is really triggered by any amount of cold air that gets in and also from eating any spicy foods. Avoiding spicy entrees is easy but we live in Minnesota and she feels like a prisoner in her own home for six months out of the year because going outside in the cold and wind causes her so much pain. She has been to several doctors and they all want to prescribe pain medication which she has adverse effects to. Really, at this point I am just wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to prevent her from having such horrible pain. I have looked on line and found that others that have had radiation to the oral cavity also suffer from this severe ear pain so if there is anyone out there who knows what she is going through and has a suggestion for us we'd love to hear it. Also, she can't wear ear muffs or ear plugs because the sound that it makes from covering her ear also hurts.

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EmpowHER Guest

Has she tried wearing a warm (i.e. fleece) scarf around her neck and mouth, and perhaps loosely around her nose, also. I had epiglottitis, and have to do that around my neck. Good luck to your mom.


February 26, 2010 - 11:53am

Thank you so much for responding! I also have another question. Is it typical for a patient receiving radiation to the throat to not be shielded on other parts of the body? My mom never was shielded anywhere on any part of her body and also suffers from trouble swallowing, cataracts, hair loss, stomach problems, etc. She was only 37 when she received her treatments and now 10 years later is suffering from so many painful and sometimes debilitating side effects she wonders if she made the right choice going ahead with the treatments.

February 24, 2010 - 9:15pm
(reply to natashastocco)


Please help your mom know that she made the right decision! All we can do when faced with a medical situation is to make the best decision we can with the information that we have. Later on we might learn some information that we wished we'd known before. But that doesn't mean we made the wrong decision. It just means that in the future we'll make even better ones.

The wise and wonderful Maya Angelou has a wonderful quote that I love:
"You did then what you knew how to do, And when you knew better, You did better.”

In terms of the radiation shielding, it certainly seems that they should have at least shielded your mother's reproductive organs. Even when dentists give X-rays, they use a shield on this part of the body that covers most of the torso and abdomen. I am surprised that they did not do this with your mom, since it was just 10 years ago. Does your mom still see the same doctor that she saw then? Has she ever asked about this?

February 26, 2010 - 8:42am
(reply to Diane Porter)

No, my mom does not see that doctor anymore. She actually doesn't see any doctors anymore. She was given numerous antibiotics due to what they called a fungal infection that kept recurring for years after radiation and also had several surgeries and scoping procedures done as a follow-up to her prior epiglottis cancer. However, each time she would have a procedure her ear pain would worsen, she would lose her voice completely and not be able to swallow. She also found out that the antibiotics prescribed by a doctor from the Mayo Clinic was actually doing more harm than good. She was told she had medically induced ??? I can't think of the word but either way the antibiotics she was on were making her even sicker. Needless to say it has left her feeling very frustrated with the medical profession. She feels a lot of what doctors do has more to do with money than patient care and I can't blame her for feeling that way. I wish I could find a doctor who knew something about her current condition dealing with all these side effects who would do something more than offer a prescription or do exploratory surgery on her. I would just love to be able to make this easier on her.

February 26, 2010 - 1:26pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to natashastocco)


I have requested help from a very qualified doctor who specializes in alternative choices for healing and health. This sounds like the best idea for your mom, since mainstream medication seems to be doing nothing (or making things worse) so looking at complimentary options is very timely.

We hope to get a response soon but bear in mind it's the weekend. Please stick with us and we'll do our very best for you and your mom!


February 26, 2010 - 1:53pm
HERWriter Guide

Dear Natashastocco,

Thank you for finding Empowher and joining us!

Your moms condition sounds truly painful - I was almost wincing myself, just reading it.

Ear pain (does she also have troubling swallowing?) is quite common after cancer of the epiglottis.

Ear plugs really bother me too, by the way - so I can imagine how much they might bother her if ear pain is so severe.

I have also searched for less painful (and more natural) ways to deal with ear, mouth and face pain after treatments for neck and head cancers but the majority of solutions, like you said, seem to be pain medications.

I am going to submit your question to one of our Empowher experts to see if they know of alternative methods to easing your moms kind of pain. Please check back in the next few days for an answer.

In the meantime, check out out throat cancer page here :


We look forward to helping you more and we thank you for your patience!

February 24, 2010 - 1:45pm
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