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Head Cold & Tinnitus
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TammyLE posted:
Hello Dr. Moser, On January 13 of this year I came down with a rather nasty head cold and sore throat. My left ear became plugged up and when that happened it also began to make a hissing noise. My ear unplugged after about a week but the hissing noise continues to this day, although it has gotten abit quieter than it was. I have seen an audiologist who diagnosed me with a very mild high frequency loss and also a ENT who says what I do have is tinnitus brought on by my cold but both the audiologist and ENT are hopeful it will resolve in time. The audiologist stated he has seen it go on for 6 months. The only ringing I have had is short 1 - 2 second rings that seem to occur 2 - 3 times per week. I also had a scare when this last Friday night my ear began to ring loudly and did not quit - thankfully I woke up the next morning and the ringing was gone. I also still have nose congestion, mucus in the throat in the morning and red eyes in the morning which is due to the fact that I still have an upper respriatory virus according to the ENT's nurse. The weather here in Wisconsin has been cold one minute and lukewarm the next which isn't helping. My question to you is can tinnitus brought on by a cold be permanent? Do you think there is a chance this will go away?
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Any viral infection (a cold) has the potential of causing tinnitus. If the virus permanently damages the sensitive inner ear, you may have tinnitus forever (like me!). However, tinnitus that is caused by middle ear issues (like fluid), may just go away in time. At this point, there is really nothing that can be done that would influence outcome....and really, no point in worrying about it. The body has a remarkable way of repairing itself, but since there are hundreds of causes of tinnitus, it is not possible to know if yours is going to hang on forever or improve.

The weather in Wisconsin is probably not an issue for your colds...or your tinnitus. People who live in warmer climates get it too.

Yes, there is always a chance that your tinnitus will self-resolve. Your ENT feels that it will, so keep hoping and praying in that direction. Mine, of course, did not go away. Perhaps, it was Nature's Way of making me more sympathetic on this ENT board! I am sure glad that I don't run the diarrhea board.....
 
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TammyLE responded:
Thanks for your quick reply, Dr. Moser. One more quick thing, my tinnitus sometimes takes on a pulsing sound - especially in the morning when I first wake. Could this be due to the congestion? My primary physician also diagnosed me with eustachian tube dysfunction when I first got my cold.
 
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TammyLE responded:
Sorry to be a bother - I forgot one more thing. There was no apparent fluid in my middle ear when the ENT checked me. Can the inner ear become inflamed or congested which could lead to temporary tinnitus? It has been a very frustrating 2 1/2 months for me - I just want it to go away.
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
This may be one special type of tinnitus, called Pulsatile Tinnitus, and yes, it could be due to the congestion. Unfortunately, it could be due to many things, including inner ear problems, etc.
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
As you may know, the INNER ear cannot be seen on examination. To answer your question, inflammation of the inner ear can definitely cause tinnitus, and there can even by a fluid issue (hydrops) in the inner ear that can be problematic.

Having this for 2.5 months is really a long time to have tinnitus. Statistically, the longer you have it....the more likely it is to be permanent, but at 2 months, it is still too early to tell.

Everyone with tinnitus would like it to just go away. I can't remember what it is like to hear "nothing".
 
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TammyLE responded:
Thank you for all your responses. My ENT had told me that 2 months wasn't out of the realm of possibility for it to go away so I am hopeful. He said it is generally considered chronic after 6 - 9 months, sometime up to a year. As long as I have upper respiratory congestion I'm hoping it will go. The fact that it has quieted down is a good sign according to my ENT. One other quick question for you - my right ear which has been fine the entire time has been ringing with a very low pitch off and on during the day for the last couple days. Can tinnitus first appear in only one ear and then appear in the other later? Or would it come on in both ears at the same time?
 
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Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Tinnitus does not follow ANY rules....you can have it in one ear, both ears, and even "no ears" (tinnitus can also originate in the brain).
 
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TammyLE responded:
Good day Dr. Moser,

Well, it's been 4 months since my last post and just over 6 months since I started having a hissing noise (tinnitus) in my left ear brought on by a head cold. Sad to say my tinnitus is still here. Although the first few months have been horrible trying to deal with this, I think I am finally getting used it it. I went about one whole month where I hardly noticed it at all but then I made the mistake of tuning into it again. I'm at the point now where I hear it and think to myself, yep, there it is! Sometime are very frustrating though. I still hold some hope that it will vanish someday. My question to you is, as I know you are a fellow tinnitus sufferer, do you ever get used to it???? Are there days when you simply just don't hear it??? I appreciate any feedback.

PS - I have also been taking Fluoxetine for the last 4 years due for PMDD and perimenopause (anxiety & depression ran rampant 4+ years ago and the drug has done nothing but helped me and my marriage tremendously!). Can tinnitus be a side effect of this med after 4 years? I have read online on some questionable sites that it can be - again I say questionable sites. My doctors says don't believe everything you read on the Internet!

Thank you for your time.


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