Update: WARNING GRAPHIC DETAILS! I've been taking decongestants and anti-allergy meds daily, as per the doctor's recommendations. The IEMs fit now, and I can no longer reproduce the problem I was having with the right tip, which before was often inaudible except in certain positions. However, my hearing's still off, and my ears have begun to ring quite steadily. I'm not hearing a lot of bass, and things sound trebly, tweezy, and kind of sharp. It's like the bottom half of the spectrum is just hollow. Whatever impressions I have of my new headphones' sound are basically bunk. From what I've been reading, these symptoms can take months to clear up. The condition is sometimes called "glue ear," a reference to the stuff that builds up behind the eardrum, and becomes thicker and thicker as it just sits there. If you have an advanced degree, you can call it "otitis media with effusion," or OME.
Now to the graphic details. Pure gore. One morning I sucked the roof of my mouth with my tongue, like you do to get snot out. I felt a definite something slide into the back of my throat. I spit onto a tissue, and there was a four-inch long bloody worm thing in a little pool of saliva and mucous. The "worm" was thick and very sticky, and the blood was brownish, not bright red. It was four inches long, but only because it was stretched out, and I think in reality it was probably just under two--the length of the Eustachian tube. When I popped my ears, like by opening my jaw wide, the "pop sensation" was much clearer in my left ear, so I figured it was my left tube that had drained. That was in the morning. That evening during dinner, it happened again. I left the table, and into the bathroom. On a tissue, it was spit with a pool of nearly black blood in the middle. I teased the thing with my finger, and lo and behold it was another "worm." This one about twice or three times as thick as the one from the morning, but the same length.
That was about a week ago. The IEM tip in my right ear didn't start fitting better until two days ago. I can't wait for my hearing to come back full.
By the way, I've learned in reading about this that there's an entire online community who think they are infected with worms, and that their doctors and the entire medical establishment are in a conspiracy not to acknowledge their mysterious parasitic infections. They spend much time and effort thinking about, and trying to coax out, these apparent worms.
Anyway, here are some quotes from a very informative page I just now came across (http://www.neurophys.wisc.edu/h&b/textbook/mid_ear.html):
"The transmission loss is greater for low frequencies and has been observed to be of the order of 20 dB for frequencies below 1000 Hz."
"Otitis media evolves from the common cold, allergies, cigarette smoke exposure, or anything that can cause obstruction of the Eustachian tube. For instance, loss of ciliary action, hyperemic swelling, and increased production of mucus associated with an upper respiratory infection leads to temporary closing of the Eustachian tube and, as a result, negative pressure develops within the middle ear. This has two consequences: One involves pressure and pain as the result of distention of the tympanic membrane innervated by the trigeminal nerve. The other is a progressive conductive hearing loss due to added stiffness of the middle ear transmission mechanism. Because stiffness shifts the resonance point of this mechanical system toward high frequencies, sounds tend to lose their low frequency quality and take on a sharp 'tinny' character not unlike that often experienced in high altitude flying. Otitis of this type usually subsides without further complication."
Let's hope so.