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Concerned about ringing in ears
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bktx75 posted:
Hi everyone. I'm currently experiencing tinnitus for the first time, and Im very worried it may be permanent.

Background on me: I'm a professional classical musician. I've always been careful about loud sounds, and often wear ear plugs if I think things are excessively noisy. I am rarely exposed to very loud sounds. HOWEVER, I was exposed to a loud fireworks explosion in mid June. My hearing recovered in 20 minutes or so and I never noticed any problems afterwards. I also have problems with impacted ear wax and occasional ear infections that require a doctor's care about once per year. Otherwise, I am 36 years old and have never had any serious or permanent hearing issues.

Background on my problem: About 2 weeks ago I experienced a mild ringing in my ears, for no apparent reason, but it went away after about 3 days. This past Saturday the ringing came back, accompanied by noticeable ear wax accumulation in both ears.

I am worried because although I know tinnitus can be triggered by ear wax or infections, I have never had tinnitus when experiencing clogged ears.

I have an appointment with an ENT doctor on Monday. I am HOPING the ringing is an effect of the ear wax and possibly an infection, However, I am worried sick that it is permanent, despite my years of trying to protect my ears. The ringing is like a constant high pitch. It often does down during the day or goes away totally and comes back at night.

Thanks for any advice.
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD responded:
Advice? Yes. Worrying doesn't help tinnitus. Not knowing the specific cause can be worrisome, but since you can't diagnose yourself based on symptoms (tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease), you will need to just wait until you see the ENT. If you have a wax impaction....he will find it. If you have an infection, he will treat it. If a cause is not readily apparent (often the case), he will tell you (hopefully). The ENT may recommend some tests, or not. He may simply advise you to wait it out....or suggestion ways of dealing with these aberrant noises.

Only TIME will answer your big question...whether your tinnitus is permanent or not. My tinnitus is permanent, but when I first got it, there is really no way for me, or any medical provider, to make that prediction.

Tinnitus is VERY diffucult to evaluate and even more difficult to treat, so you need to just hang in there and hope that it resolves on its own, since there is very little that medical science can do to orchestrate an instant cure.

Study as much as you can about tinnitus...read some medical sites on the Internet.
 
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bktx75 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thanks for your advice doctor. If nothing else I will post back here after seeing the ENT. I have read extensively online and all reliable sites (such as this one) suggest impacted wax and ear infections are often a cause of temporary tinnitus. My fear is just that I have never experienced this before and am obviously jumping to the worst case scenario. It doesn't help that I am dealing with depression issues right now either (I am not on medication but am seeing a therapist for that). And being a musician I hear all kinds of stories about hearing loss and tinnitus.

Only time will tell. Unfortunately it's 4 days off.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to bktx75's response:
Just try not to ponder those worse-case scenerios....See the ENT and start the evaluation process. Who knows, maybe your tinnitus will resolve even before seeing the specialists.....
 
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bktx75 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Went to see the ENT specialist. He cleaned out a moderate amount of wax, but said that isn't the cause in his opinion. He did not see any problems with the ear drum, no fluid, or signs of infection. After that he added that there is no telling what the cause might be. I told him about my work as a musician and he doesn't seem to think that's a problem since the work I do doesn't involve a lot of really loud sound, like being in a rock band.

He added that it's entirely possible that it will go away on it's own, and many minor cases to resolve on their own. He suggested stress and anxiety are a big factor and I should try addressing my underlying recent stress issues, as well as looking into lowering salt and getting regular exercise. I was very nervous and uptight and the nurse noted my blood pressure was pretty high. The doctor added that by not concentrating on it, it could very well go away on it's own once the brain learns to tune it out. In essence, in many cases, if you can just ignore it, it may go away on it's own.

I asked him about the chances of it resolving by itself, how long it may take, and he said there is no way to tell, and that tinnitus is somewhat relative, since there's no way to measure it objectively. It may, or it may not. He did give me some resources that I will look at that may help in coping.

So, I'm not sure what to think. I'm pretty bummed, as I just want it to go away, to be honest.
 
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bktx75 replied to bktx75's response:
Another thought - I feel as though I have been under a tremendous amount of stress this past year. I have been working a lot, often going a few weeks without any time off. Some job dissatisfaction issues, and some stress in my personal life. My drinking also increased for a while up to about 3 drinks a day, although I have been cutting back lately. I know one cannot definitively say this is the cause of my recent tinnitus issue, but is there a good possibility this may explain it?
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to bktx75's response:
Stress can make ANY illness or condition worse, but as far as I know, there is no causative relationship between tinnitus and stress....or alcohol consumption.

The fact that you recognize stress as a major health issue at this time in your life is important, since you and only you, have the ability to make the necessary changes. Either find a way of coping with the stress or try and find a job that does not cause stress. People who are content and happy tend to cope with tinnitus better....most do not even notice it anymore.
 
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bktx75 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Thanks for your response again. I am currently seeing a therapist for my depression issues and will discuss it with her this evening when I go to my appointment.

One of my hopes (even though I understand there is no way to guarantee it will happen) is that with some positive lifestyle changes (exercise, cutting back on alcohol and dealing with stress appropriately) will result in a diminution of the tinnitus or possible it going away. Again, I know there is no guarantee, but the doctor seemed very positive that these things would stand a good chance of at least decreasing the symptoms.
 
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bktx75 replied to bktx75's response:
Sorry for yet another post, but another idea I had - I have often used meditation as a way of dealing with stress (though I havent been very committed to it lately) One of the ideas is that in order to quiet ones thoughts and mind, the worst thing you can do is try and "force" them to go away, or to ignore all thoughts. Rather, one is instructed to acknowledge ones thoughts but not to be distracted by them, and let them pass. I wonder if this technique has been used with tinnitus patients before?
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to bktx75's response:
I don't know....but you can certainly try the technique to see if it works for you.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to bktx75's response:
All of those things will help. Whether it will cure your tinnitus is unclear, since the cause is unknown, but since you are having other issues related to stress in your life, I would encourage you to make all of those positive lifestyle changes.
 
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bktx75 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
Well, after two weeks, I've seen an ENT, and started discussing the problem with my therapist/psychologist. I'm also going to be making an appointment with an audiologist.

I've also started trying to change my diet and establish an exercise routine, as well as get back in to my meditation practice. I suppose I've started worried too much too soon, and it could be a transitory problem, but I am prone to a great deal of worry and given my profession as a musician I feel I have a lot riding on the outcome. I'm hoping that even though it is unclear if it will go away, I can at least minimize and deal with it so it is not intrusive and doesn't have a negative impact on my life.
 
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Rod Moser, PA, PhD replied to bktx75's response:
What else can you do but go on with your life, and make those suggested lifestyle changes that may increase your chance of a good recovery.

I have had tinnitus for over15 years now (more or less...I lost track of when it started) and now....here I am...writing about it! Does it still bug me? Yes, sometimes. Do I care? Not really, since there is nothing I can do to change it. I have learned to accept my tinnitus as just another bump in the road. I would like to experience silence again....just to see what it is like, but it is not going to happen. You, on the other hand, still have a chance that yours will go away. For me, after 15 years, the tinnitus is with me for the duration.

Tinnitus is only intrusive and life-altering if you allow it to happen.
 
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bktx75 replied to Rod Moser, PA, PhD's response:
That's very encouraging. I'm going to see an audiologist. I saw a general practitioner today who gave me a clean bill of health. He did suggest a course of Methylprednisolone in case the tinnitus was due to an inflamation in the inner ear.
 
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bktx75 replied to bktx75's response:
Was also told my blood pressure is a bit high. 130/90. I felt pretty relaxed at the time too.


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