A Series of Unfortunate Events — Ear Fluid/Flying/COVID-19/Ear Irrigation → Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by moto joe, Jul 16, 2022.

    1. moto joe

      moto joe Member

      Location:
      Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      COVID-19 and/or Ear Irrigation
      Hi guys, new here, thanks for the add.

      Did anyone get their tinnitus after an ear flush/irrigation, COVID-19/ear fluid/ear infection, or antibiotic?

      My story is, about 2-1/2 months ago, I was on vacation in Florida for a week. I picked up what seemed like a cold on Wednesday. By the time I was flying home (2 hour flight) on Saturday night, I had full blown cold symptoms... runny nose, crackling in my ears, etc... I had never flown with cold symptoms before. There was a lot of pressure in my ears on landing and my right ear wouldn't pop.

      When picking up our bags, my right ear hurt like an ear ache. Then the weirdest thing happened when we were driving home (about an hour after landing)... I heard a loud noise blaring in my right ear for like 2 seconds. My ear then popped for a second, but then went back shut again.

      The next day, I tested positive for COVID-19, so I quarantined for a week. My cold symptoms subsided, but I was still having problems with my ears popping and sometimes aching very lightly. It was my doctor's turn to be on vacation, so I didn't get in to their office right away (I could only see a nurse practitioner). She said my left ear looked good, but she couldn't see my right ear due to wax.

      So, she decided to flush it with an ear irrigation kit. It was very loud against my eardrum and the pressure was bothersome, but I never felt that it "hurt", it was just uncomfortable. They finally got it out and she looked at my ear drum. She said it looked "hazy", which can indicate fluid behind the ear drum. So, she gave me a prescription for Amoxicillin. My ear felt shut due to the water, but I didn't notice anything too odd besides that. A few hours later, the water finally came out.

      Sometime the next day though, I began hearing a high pitched ringing in my ears. I had never had ringing in my ears that had lasted more than a few seconds. I have had the ear ringing since.

      So, at this point, I'm not sure if the ear infection/fluid in my middle ear, COVID-19, or the ear flushing/irrigation, caused the tinnitus.

      I just saw ENT for the first time this past week. He suspects the ear flushing/irrigation and I tend to agree. They didn't have me use drops to soften the wax or anything and I have no idea how long the wax was in there, but I wasn't bothered by it... I didn't notice any fullness or lack of hearing in that ear.

      I've had my hearing tested twice, once by a private audiologist and then at the ENT appointment and both have come back fine.

      My tinnitus seems reactive to sound. When I first wake up in the morning, I can usually barely hear it. But, as my ears are exposed to normal sounds (shower, electric toothbrush, etc...) it tends to ramp up and increase throughout the day.

      It's been about 2 months since the tinnitus started. Is there any chance this could still be temporary or improve? Should I contemplate taking Prednisone at this point or is it too late? My primary doctor had me take Zyrtec-D and Nasonex at the same time to reduce fluid behind my ears and the combination by day 6 sent me to urgent care with a 2+ hour panic attack. So, I try to take as little medicine as possible, but if there is anything I can do to help not make this a forever-problem, I'm all for it!

      Thanks for reading my extremely long post! Any advice is welcome!

      Joe
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Matchbox
      Wishful

      Matchbox Member

      Location:
      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      My personal opinion if it's in both ears, is likely irrigation, especially, if you had tinnitus prior.

      Barotrauma is no joke. Flying with a cold is imo insane. If you must you need to really prepare so you can equalize.

      That pop could've been anything, but probably not too serious as you didn't immediately go deaf and get dizzy. Thankfully it's no worse than some tinnitus. You need to treat it similar to a diving accident. Which usually means steroids, but really that's debatable.

      Steroids are... a mixed bag. I'm on them right now. Difference is I had overnight hearing loss and I had fleeting tinnitus in my left ear for months leading up. They aren't without risk and could make your tinnitus better but then with added sounds if you taper too quickly off. No guarantees then. Having screaming tinnitus and being deaf is no joke though.

      If you have a previous audiogram, compare. Are there differences of over 10 dB somewhere, like past 4 kHz? Even right now I'd be looking at your audiogram to see dips around 6 kHz or 8 kHz below 10 dB compared to your average best fit line of 250 Hz to 3 kHz. Ignore any dip of up to 15 dB at 4 kHz imo. That's normal hearing loss from noise. Not from the plane. Irrigation noise trauma likely recovered by now.

      Otherwise no dips? Give it time and maybe some muscle relaxers that aren't ototoxic. Don't stress your ear out a lot with noise for a month or so. No headphones for music. Just be careful and get good sleeps in. Light masking if you have to.

      You should notice fading or resolution in a few months.

      If not, some people can go the medical route and find something that at least helps but it's pretty much the wild west. Betahistine and Ginkgo may also help blood flow in the inner ear. Again debatable but much less risky. There's also a good reason to have it with COVID-19 as well being it's tenacity for blood clots in small capillaries, like an inner ear. Do take any vaccine for Omicron that comes out.

      You probably have about a week to decide on the steroids, not months. Some people find steroids help even years later with the ringing alone. But for its emergency use you really only have 3 days to a week. Without hearing loss I would not do it.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    3. Dman

      Dman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I think you have a pretty good chance of recovery.

      Last year I got tinnitus in my left ear without any apparent reason. ENT was useless insisting that I must've experienced some loud event which I hadn't. Tinnitus disappeared 3-4 months later.

      2 months ago was prescribed antibiotic ear drops for alleged ear infection in my right ear that the ENT diagnosed over the phone. Then when I got there in person he removed some wax from that ear using microsuction. 2 days later I woke up with pain and loudness hyperacusis and super reactive and loud tinnitus. I thought that my life was over, got a couple of panic attacks and severe anxiety. Just like yours it's totally gone in the morning and used to go up during the day.

      Well, I don't want to jinx myself but just to give you hope - hyperacusis is gone 90% and the tinnitus stays constant 1 out of 10.
       
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      moto joe

      moto joe Member

      Location:
      Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      COVID-19 and/or Ear Irrigation
      @Matchbox,

      I only had irrigation in the right ear, yet I have the tinnitus in both ears. Is that odd? The timing points to the irrigation, as the constant tinnitus started the very next day.

      But, its complicated because of the whole flying home with fluid in my ears/COVID-19 thing.

      My ears have been tested twice... but, not prior to this, so I have nothing to compare to. First test was by a private audiologist and then by the ENT's audiologist. Both show the same... a dip in the 2-4 kHz frequencies, but it's right about at 25 dB, which I understand is the threshold between normal hearing and hearing loss.

      My new pattern seems to be, its quietest when I first wake up. But, as I'm exposed to sounds, it tends to ramp up throughout the day.

      I don't need this to go away. I just need it to improve to a point where it's not affecting my daily life.

      If I knew I was going to have all these issues with my ears, I never would have flown home with the cold symptoms. I've only flown like 6 times in my life. My daughter is high risk for upper respiratory issues, so we put off going on this vacation for over a year. We finally thought it seemed safe... well, I guess not. And now I have a daily reminder of this mistake.

      Screenshot_20220718-071827_Gallery.jpg
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      moto joe

      moto joe Member

      Location:
      Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      COVID-19 and/or Ear Irrigation
      @Dman,

      This is reassuring, thank you!

      Did you only have the tinnitus in the right ear this past time?

      Even though they only flushed the right ear, it seems like I get the tinnitus in both. But, I'd say its more often perceptible in my right ear or both.

      Thanks!
       
    6. Dman

      Dman Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I have something like fleeting tinnitus 2 or 3 times a week for few seconds in my left ear, but I don't even pay attention to it.
       
    7. Matchbox
      Wishful

      Matchbox Member

      Location:
      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      Your ears do crazy shit. What can I say.

      I think it's a brain thing when it jumps to both like that, keep in mind ear drum contractions occur on BOTH sides regardless where the sound comes from, so could have been too much of that (mixed with ear lock from pressure, you probably already pissed off both high freq areas of your cochlea).

      If ALL you have is ringing, and you can match it to say 8-12 kHz, you're in good company for getting better, getting quieter is very likely going to happen on its own so long as you keep your noise exposures down (maybe start taking NAC for protection). It'll take months at least.

      Don't use steroids unless you have hearing loss, not worth the temporary loss of tinnitus because it can make your noises FAR worse tapering off.

      Also, Acoustic Reflex Test? That's just insane, never do that again.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    8. Wrfortiscue
      Cowabunga

      Wrfortiscue Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Trauma
      I second this. No ENT crazy tests, no noise exposures. Just CHILL @moto joe and you’ll be good in time. If you can just find quiet rooms and read or something, maybe very very low sound therapy if you’re bothered.
       
      • Like Like x 2
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      moto joe

      moto joe Member

      Location:
      Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      COVID-19 and/or Ear Irrigation
      Matchbox,

      Again, it's a case of leaving "professionals" who I'd like to believe know what they are doing... do their thing. I only asked for my hearing to be checked... not for the acoustic reflex test. I didn't even know what that was until they explained it afterwards.

      I only asked for my ears to be checked by my doctor's office, because my COVID-19 cold symptoms went away, but my ears were still crackling/popping, opening and closing due to fluid. I wasn't sure if it was infected/needed an antibiotic. Of course, the right ear had wax, so she had basically a nursing assistant flush my right ear. It was very loud and a lot of pressure. I never felt like it hurt, just that it was uncomfortable. It seemed she was having trouble getting it out. I mean, I wasn't given drops to soften it for a few days... who knows how long that wax was in there? It was never to the point where I felt like I had trouble hearing out of that ear or it felt full or anything. My greatest fear is that she was too rough trying to get it out and that she permanently damaged that ear - at least from a tinnitus standpoint. If I'm being honest, I'd rather have hearing loss without tinnitus instead of fine hearing with constant tinnitus.

      I'd rather believe this is all COVID-19 related and will subside with time. I can't ignore that the constant ringing started the day after the ear flush. I've never had issues with ear infections or anything before.

      When I first wake up in the morning, it is usually pretty quiet. That is the best. Then, as the day goes on, it gets louder and is usually loudest towards evening time.

      Right now (10 am), it sounds like sort of a high pitched "Shhhhh" sound. I'm dating myself, but like if you listened to a cassette with headphones... that shhhhh sound before the music starts.

      This I can deal with.

      Later it becomes loud, high pitched cicadas or like an electric bug zapper. That is where it becomes really intrusive and distracting.

      What pisses me off is, I generally am careful about my hearing. I haven't been to a concert in a few years, but I always wear earplugs. I also ride motorcycle, but its a very quiet bike and I always wear a helmet and earplugs to prevent damage due to wind noise. I am still riding motorcycle from time to time, as its summer... but it sounds no worse than driving a car with the windows cracked. I haven't listened to any music with headphones since this all happened and I never played it overly loud anyway.

      Thank you for helping to reassure me. It's scary to have something for months and not know/feel like it is healing.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
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