Ear Fullness / Slight Tinnitus After Using Headphones

Discussion in 'Support' started by Octave, Jul 17, 2018.

    1. Octave

      Octave Member

      Location:
      Paris
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Trauma
      Hello everyone,

      In mid April, I had a phone ring right into my right ear and since then I’ve been experiencing (mild) tinnitus and ear fullness (I didn’t lose any significant hearing).

      I’ve also had tinnitus due to a gunshot induced ear trauma in 2012, but it had gone away since.

      The fullness has begun to subside when I don’t do anything, but I’ve been playing video games again recently, and I figured out that the ear fullness comes back everytime I use a headset, even if I turn down the volume a lot. (I have very high ear sensitivity too so I don’t really have a choice)

      I’ve always been a PC gamer, so headsets are crucial for me, especially since I usually play games where sound is very important to detect enemies.

      Now what I’d like to know is if ear fullness can be a sign that I can’t use headphones again? Even at a very low volume? Do you think I might be damaging my ears further?

      Thanks a lot in advance for your insights !
       
    2. dpdx
      Disappointed

      dpdx Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Murica
      Tinnitus Since:
      Onset:09/23/2017 Worsened: 1/17/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma, worsened by caloric test/VEMP test 90db nhL
      Do not ever use headphones/earbuds EVER EVER AGAIN or you are risking it making it worse. TRUST me I have Severe Tinnitus, in the beginning I had mild tinnitus like you, but it sky rocketed from 2/10 to 8/10 and remained since January with Severe Hyperacusis. I also developed vision problems as a result (visual snow and dark eye floaters- seeing an optometrist soon because it has gotten very bad), please do not use earbuds/headphones ever again or YOU WILL MAKE IT WORSE....you have been warned.
       
      • Agree Agree x 3
    3. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      • Agree Agree x 2
    4. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Then it sounds like you know that the headset (or what you play through it) isn't well tolerated by your ears. Is your headset creating a tight seal with your ear or is it open? You may have a better luck with open designs.
       
    5. Gman
      No Mood

      Gman Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxic earwax drops, worsened by MDs (Muppet Doctors)
      The ear fullness is possibly to do with your middle ear muscles contracting and possibly Eustachian tubes. Your ears are reacting to a possible perceived danger (ie sounds through the headphones) and are trying to protect themselves, which as a result causes ear fullness. It doesn’t hurt the ear to experience it, but sounds can depending on the volume. This is my opinion based on my experience with ear fullness, so I can’t say for sure it’s true for you.
       
    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Thank you @Bill Bauer for the PM prompt for I haven't read a post like this in a long time.


      @Octave

      Bill Bauer and @dpdx have given you very good advice and I hope you listen, because they know about "noise induced" tinnitus and the harm headphone use including headsets, can do to a person affected with this type of tinnitus even at low volume. The fullness that you are experiencing in your ears is a clear indication, that you are causing damage to your auditory system. I am aghast after reading your post and totally dismayed that you can be so cavalier about this. Your ears and auditory system are telling you they are not happy with what you are doing, yet still you persist in using a headset which I find quite astonishing.

      Please excuse the following comments as I don't mean to be flippant. I see detecting enemies whilst playing your computer games is very important to you. Believe me, if you continue using your headset you will have no problems detecting enemies, because loud intrusive tinnitus is one that will be with you permanently. Please stop using your headset and never use headphones again to listen to any type of audio even at low volume; hopefully you will then save yourself a lot of heartache and misery for the future.

      I wish you well.
      Michael
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    7. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      How long did it take for it to go away?
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Octave

      Octave Member

      Location:
      Paris
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Trauma
      Thanks a lot for your answers !

      I’m an airborne radar operator so I use headphones every time I work. And that hasn’t stopped my healing or caused any fullness/ tinitus.
      That being said, I’ve always used earplugs when working to shelter myself from engine noise.

      Is it possible that earplugs somehow protect the ears when using headphones, even if I have to compensate by turning the volume way up to hear what my crewman are saying? Which is why I get symptoms when using headphones without earplugs but not with earplugs?

      I will stop using headphones in the meantime and will maybe try to replicate sound localisation with speakers (those are fine right? :/)

      @Bill Bauer it went away in about 6 months
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      If you need to use a headset for your work/job there is not much that you can do about this. Earplugs might help and I suggest using "noise reducing earplugs" that have filters in. Please don't think using earplugs with your headset to play computer games will keep you safe because they won't. I strongly advise you never to use a headset or headphones to play computer games or listen to music again even at low volume.

      Regarding earplugs and moulded types. If external sound is loud enough it will pass through your skull/head and be transferred to your inner ear by bone conduction. This can irritate the cochlea and make your tinnitus worse. If you follow the advice I, Bill Bauer and dpdx has given you then you might be ok. If you are tempted and continue to use a headset or headphones, most likely you will make your tinnitus a lot worse. This will most likely prevent you from working, do you job. for a period of time due to distress of the tinnitus. I am being very serious about this. Many people contact me that continue to use headphones and made their tinnitus worse, even though the volume was kept low. Now they cannot return to work because of it. Please be careful and think what you are doing.

      Michael

      PS: There are some people in this forum that will say to you: continue to use headphones/headset it is okay providing you keep the volume low. It is true that some people with "noise induced" tinnitus, are able to use headphones without causing any problems. However, you are experiencing problems such as fulness in your ears etc. There are also people in this forum that have tinnitus but it wasn't "noise induced".

      They will also tell you using headphones is fine providing you keep the volume low. Please be aware, these people know nothing about "noise induced" tinnitus because they have never experienced it. Noise induced tinnitus is different from other types of tinnitus. By this I mean the way the noise affects the inner ear and in particular the cochlea. Very often (but not always) a person with "noise induced" tinnitus also has hyperacusis. People with other types of tinnitus don't experience hyperacusis to the same degree or have severe oversensitivity to sound caused by noise trauma. This makes the ear and auditory system much more sensitive to sound. To correct this sound therapy is often used to desensitize the auditory system, or it can improve by itself over time without specialist treatment.

      If you listen to people that tell you using headphones/headset is fine as long as you keep the volume low. Just remember, if your tinnitus gets worse which is most likely, these people will not be able to help you!
       
      Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Octave

      Octave Member

      Location:
      Paris
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Trauma
      Hello and thanks alot for your in depth answer.

      I will stop using headphones for gaming / listening to music right now. I’ve just ordered a sound card with a sonar that can help me visualize the sounds I will hear with my healthy left ear.

      Work paid me free noise blocking custom moulded earplugs, but I’ve never been able to use them because they don’t block as much noise as just regular earplugs..

      I have a few more questions if you don’t mind :

      - Is it in your opinion possible that in any time in the future, when I don’t experience any ear fullness/tinitus, that I will be able to use headphones again, or is this a « life sentence » ?

      - For practical purposes, do using earplugs on my damaged ear while using my healthy ear to listen with headphones at a « normal level » risk damaging it as well?

      - Why is it in your opinion that I can use headphones at work but not in gaming? I know it’s not possible to use earplugs while gaming (I’ve tried it 1 month ago and the sound is too muffled) but it still means that earplugs protect me from some headphones inducing damage. Maybe it would be good to give that information to people like me with T that have to work with headsets.

      - Would using a 5.1 speaker set to replicate spacialization, at a low volume, also risk damaging my ear?

      Thanks a lot for your help @Michael Leigh
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You are welcome @Octave and hope I have been of some help. I may not always agree with @Bill Bauer on certain issues, and vice versa, but I fully agree with him in this instance along with @dpdx

      The advice that I have given you is my opinion but I want to say a few things on this. It is based on many years experience with "noise induced" tinnitus and corresponding and counselling people with this type of condition. There are quite a few members in this forum: newbies, those seasoned to tinnitus and veterans that have noise induced tinnitus, that share my views and I believe give very good help and advice.

      There are some medical professionals, that believe using headphones and headsets is perfectly fine for people that have "noise induced" tinnitus providing the volume is kept at a low level. I believe this advice to be incorrect and will explain my reasons. These medical professionals are good at what they do. They have medical knowledge of the anatomy of the ear. They are able to treat underlying medical problems associated with it: medically and surgically and this they do well. However, many of them have a very limited knowledge of tinnitus and the way is affects a person emotionally. The reason being most have never experienced tinnitus. One can read books on tinnitus but to have an in-depth knowledge of the condition you have to experience it. It is for this reason a lot of Hearing Therapists and Audiologists that practice tinnitus management and counsel patients, were either born with tinnitus or acquired it at some time in their life.

      To answer your first question. I believe it would be prudent for you to never use headphones again and this means for life. I wouldn't take the chance and use them even at low volume and will explain. Although your tinnitus may remain low or go away completely, it is still there in the background waiting to strike. Many people have contacted me that have habituated to their tinnitus and it remained low. One such person contacted me last month. Her tinnitus was originally caused by headphones. Eventually she habituated and it has remained low for 6 years. She began using headphone and kept the volume low. Within a week or two the tinnitus returned with a vengeance and now she cannot return to work because of the distress the tinnitus is causing her. It will not reduce to its previous level. Many people have contacted me with a similar story.



      2. Although you are experiencing the tinnitus in only one ear the tinnitus is actually coming from your brain. I believe if you continue to use headphones even at a low volume, you risk making your tinnitus louder and more intrusive. The choice is yours. My advice is not to use headphones.

      3. Because you have mentioned your work requires you to use a headset/headphones I agreed with you to continue using them. If it were possible to do your job without using a headset/headphones then my advice would be not to use them.

      4. Keep your 5.1 speaker surround system at a reasonable level and you should be okay. Please be aware of low bass frequencies. Low bass can spike your tinnitus and make it permanently worse if you are not careful.

      Best of luck and I wish you well.
      Michael



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    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Octave

      Octave Member

      Location:
      Paris
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Trauma
      Thanks again a lot for your explanation and thoughtful answers, and for helping me avoid to completely destroy my hearing !

      Are you a hearing counsellor yourself @Michael Leigh , or a fellow tinitus “victim”, or maybe both?

      I’m actually switching jobs in September so I won’t have to wear headphones at work very long ! Hopefully by then I will see real improval !

      Looking forward to receiving the speakers to be honest, because I can’t enjoy gaming at all without headphones...
       
    13. Bill Bauer
      No Mood

      Bill Bauer Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      February, 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic Trauma
      Unless you experience ear fullness or even a T spike after using that speaker, the speaker ought to be safe.
      Please read the post below:
       
      • Like Like x 1
    14. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I have had tinnitus for 22 years and it was caused by headphones. I have a rare type of noise induced tinnitus according to my ENT consultant and hearing therapist. It ranges from: complete silence, mild, moderate, severe and can reach very severe levels. Because my tinnitus is this way, it enables me to fully understand the different levels this condition can affect a person. For example: Some people have mild or moderate tinnitus and have habituated and believe this is the same for everyone that has tinnitus because they have no experience of prolonged severe tinnitus, which can seriously affect a person's mental and emotional well-being.

      I visit a number of tinnitus forums. Some people have asked to contacted me by email, and telephone which I have done on many occasions. There are quite a few people in this forum, that I have spoken to on the telephone regularly, that have asked for my help coping with tinnitus. I believe unless a person has tinnitus, they cannot fully understand the condition and be able to counsel someone with it effectively.

      It doesn't matter whether your tinnitus is in one ear or two, so I advise you to be very careful using headphones for gaming. At the moment you are able to cope with your tinnitus because it is at a mild or moderate level. By using headphones, you risk making your tinnitus worse even if the volume is low and only one of your ears are affected. Tinnitus can become very debilitating even if one ear is only affected.

      Take care
      Michael
       
      • Agree Agree x 1

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