Complicated Tinnitus Story That Started After Taking Clarithromycin: Seeking Advice on Next Steps

Discussion in 'Support' started by David Kelly, May 3, 2023.

    1. David Kelly

      David Kelly Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Glue Ear (potentially)
      I am hoping to get some advice on my tinnitus experience. It's been a complicated journey for me, and I'm not sure what steps I should take next. Here's my story:

      About four weeks ago, I woke up with unilateral high-pitched tinnitus in my right ear after taking Clarithromycin the previous evening. Since then, my tinnitus has spread to my left ear, and I now have three or four constant tones, all different in sound and pitch.

      Prior to this; within a three-week period, I also had ear wax removal, used the Otomize antibiotic spray on that same ear, and was exposed to loud noise several times (due to my kids being at home & attending my friend's MMA fight which had much louder speakers than I anticipated but this is a week before tinnitus and I didn't mind as much). I have no hearing loss so far, as confirmed by two hearing tests up to 8000 Hz (I'm assuming I could have high-frequency hearing loss however), and a normal tympanometry test.

      I feel like my tinnitus has gotten twice as bad in the last four weeks, which is surprising to me. Could this be a spike? Or could it be more damage? For the first 2 weeks, I lost 8 kg in weight and slept 1-2 hours a night. That has improved to 5-6 hours a night with the help of sleep hygiene and Melatonin.

      I'm also wondering if my ears were already damaged before taking the Clarithromycin and if it was just the final straw that triggered the tinnitus. Because of work commitments, I have had to go to 3 restaurants at this time but also kept my eye on the decibels; nothing over 75 dB - and hearing loss isn't present so I thought it should be ok. I didn't wear earplugs at these meetings and didn't drink any alcohol.

      I'm considering getting an Otoacoustic Emissions test to check the functionality of my inner ear. Has anyone else done this, and what were your results?

      I have an MRI scheduled for May 16th, but I'm not sure what other steps to take after that. Any advice or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

      So in summary I have a few questions;
      • Would noise-induced hearing loss show on the hearing tests?
      • Should I get an Otoacoustic Emissions test?
      • Can multi-tone tinnitus calm down? It seems to be getting louder if anything which is scaring me.
      Thank you.
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. Hardwell

      Hardwell Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      Hi David,

      I’m sorry to see you are on this rollercoaster with us all. It sucks major balls that’s for sure.
      Can I ask why you’re taking Clarithromycin? This medication itself is ototoxic and can cause tinnitus. But the reason you’re taking Clarithromycin could also be a reason for your tinnitus. A few antibiotic ear drops are also ototoxic in nature so that could also be a cause and of course the loud noise exposure, but seeing as this was a week prior, it’s unlikely to be the cause.

      In the beginning, tinnitus tends to fluctuate and it can get worse for the first few months. Most people report it finally settling and for many fading tends to follow.

      Hearing loss or lack thereof has little to no meaning in regards to tinnitus for most people. In your early stages I really would advise staying away from noisy situations and wearing some earplugs at restaurants for the time being.

      I have no insight into Otoacoustic Emissions test, unfortunately.

      And to answer your questions:
      • Noise-induced hearing loss presenting up to 8 kHz will show on an audiogram.
      • I’ve seen lots of people having multi-tonal tinnitus from onset and it has indeed calmed down a lot for them; the tones tend to come and go.
      • Like Like x 1
    3. AUTHOR
      David Kelly

      David Kelly Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Glue Ear (potentially)
      Hi @Hardwell,

      Thanks for your reply; I was taking Clarithromycin because a few weeks prior I had some sort of blockage in my ear, this took my hearing down dramatically and then it all came back. I had met my doctor on the street randomly and I still had some issues, mainly slight off balance feeling. He told me to call in for some vertigo medication - and he had also left an antibiotic out; the rest is history.

      Thank you for your time and response, it's much appreciated. My tinnitus has most certainly spiked in the last week and I'm hoping it goes back to where it was - but we shall see.
    4. tniuf

      tniuf Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      1st 2016, 2nd 2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      If it's not from meds it doesn't matter, avoid concerts
      MRIs are very loud, not a good idea if you have tinnitus... Also not sure what is the point of any test if this can't be treated.
      • Agree Agree x 1
    5. Hardwell

      Hardwell Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      You have multiple possible causes for what could have caused the onset of your tinnitus then! The cause often makes little difference as the ‘journey’ is the same.

      You’re only a month in so it’s best to just give the ears as much rest as possible. You’ll see from the forum that the natural path for many is quite positive from onset and you should see some progress within the first 6 months.

      How loud is your tinnitus and do you find it particularly bothersome?
    6. hopefuldede

      hopefuldede Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hi David, sorry to see you have been having a rough time.

      @Hardwell is 100 percent! Irrespective of the cause, whether it was multiple or not - the journey is the same. You might not be able to determine the exact cause. For me I think mine came from the cold but there’s also the fact that I was on low dose Amitriptyline for nerve pain; I was at a Coldplay concert a few weeks previous; I had an antibiotic for the cold.

      I am subject to the same healthcare system as you and even the private services aren’t up to much. Funny enough I also have an MRI the same week as you.

      I am sure you are aware, but if you are from Belfast or thereabouts, there is a Support Group that physically meet.

      You sound as if you have a career / you work. I found my work a great distraction (and still is) for my tinnitus.

      My sleep can be up and down. I’m working on making it better. I took Melatonin but it didn’t help as much as I’d have liked it to.

      Be kind and patient to yourself - take care.
      • Like Like x 1
    7. Matchbox

      Matchbox Member

      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      Get an audiogram with air bone gaps to see if you have/had a real blockage vs. real hearing loss.

      Hidden hearing loss doesn't show on an audiogram, that's nerve damage and you'd have some crazy batshit distortions going on or difficulty hearing people in noise.

      Otoacoustic emissions will tell you if you suffered noise-induced hearing loss better than an audiogram. It is rather useless for anything else.

      The fact that you were in loud places and then took this antibiotic sounds like there was damage, it was recovering, then you threw something else at your ears.

      Antioxidants are usually the best thing to do to help protect the ears from damage (with many drugs/excessive noise it ends up being through radical oxidation damage where cells die).

      Steroids might've been a good idea to try when it first began after coming off the antibiotic.

      Sure, it can get better. The fact that it's getting louder is concerning if your balance is still off.

      You should probably at the least be wearing musician's earplugs anywhere above 80 dB for the time being.

      Check to see how your low frequencies are. It could be hydrops. Yes, you can do something about that. Do you eat a lot of salt in your diet?

      I'm a bit surprised nobody's done any follow up considering it began as one-sided tinnitus. MRIs are loud, but a tumour is much worse to ignore.

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