Fainting/Syncope During Custom Ear Plug Fitting

Discussion in 'Dr. Stephen Nagler (Archived Answers)' started by 2131e, Oct 21, 2014.

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    1. 2131e

      2131e Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Dear Dr. Nagler,

      Thanks in advance for your help. I went to get custom ear plugs fitted today and I fainted when the putty was put in both my ears. Googling my symptoms (sudden extreme tiredness, nausea, feeling of 'hotness' in the head) I read that fainting comes from loss of oxygen supply to the brain.

      The audiologist suggested I see a doctor as no-one had ever fainted during the putty procedure before. I'm a bit concerned about it because I don't normally faint. I was definitely scared about the procedure, but I did actually feel like for some reason, when the putty was in my ears, it was almost impossible for me to stay awake. After the audiologist woke me from the initial fainting, I had to push my nails hard into my leg to cause me pain so I wouldn't fall 'asleep' again. After putty was taken out I had to lie on the floor for a minute to recover, then after that I felt okay.

      Do you know why this might have happened? The audiologist peeked inside my ears afterwards and said everything is okay. He thought it was stress/anxiety, and sure I was scared, but it did feel like it was something about the putty in my ears that made it impossible for me to stay awake.

      I've got relatively recently (3 months) diagnosed tinnitus from too-loud music. I've also got TMJ - but that's been chronic and longstanding.

      Thanks so much.
    2. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Hi @2131e -

      Obviously there is no way that putting silicone in both ears to make impressions for molds could have directly cut off oxygen to your brain. I can think of a few indirect mechanisms, however. The most likely is that with both ears totally occluded, you are completely isolated sound-wise and totally alone with your tinnitus. That situation, combined with the pressure of the silicone against your eardrums, could have induced a vaso-vagal response with consequent fainting from temporarily decreased blood flow to the brain. (It is your blood that carries oxygen.)

      Now the above is a guess, but it makes sense to me.

      Next time you have silicone impressions, ask the audiologist to do them one at a time. That should help.

      stephen nagler

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