Flying and Inner Ear Barotrauma? — Screeching Tinnitus + Hearing Loss after Flight

Discussion in 'Support' started by Lauren Morse, Nov 26, 2015.

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    1. Lauren Morse
      Cowabunga

      Lauren Morse Member

      Location:
      Salt Lake City
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Accoustic Trauma/Migraines
      So yesterday I went flying home for Thanksgiving on a 4 hour flight. I sat in the back of the airplane, and wore a pair of tight fitting earplugs that make a reasonable suction when you push them in far enough into the canal. I have used these same earplugs every time I have flown with no problems resulting from use.

      What usually happens is that during the ascent, my ears do pop and release pressure behind my earplugs to let the air out. This time this did not happen, although I occasionally temporary removed my earplugs and swallowed to equalize the pressure.
      My hearing and T seemed to be fine up through the first half of the flight. As always, my tinnitus gets worse whenever I use earplugs, but this time it just gradually built throughout the flight and was screaming at the end, absolutely screaming! (8/10), particularly in the left ear. My hearing also noticeably decreased in my left and right ear during the flight and I could not hear myself breathing as loudly after a while.
      When I landed and took my plugs out, holy crap I was sooo dizzy and vertigo afflicted, with very loud crackling tinnitus in both ears. I also had lost a cookie bite's worth of hearing gone, especially in the left ear, and my own voice sounded like static when I tried to pronounce high pitched consonants like s and th. About a half hour later, when trying to speak, my head felt like it was going to explode, and I became so faint that I almost passed out multiple times.

      I suspect that I suffered from middle ear barotrauma, and that my Eustachian tube had also been impacted significantly from the flight so that I had a very clogged feeling. But could I have also suffered inner ear barotrauma? I am really scared that wearing my earplugs so tight on the plane was not the best choice...

      As an update, my hearing has come back completely in my right ear with tinnitus greatly reduced. The left ear has also partially recovered, but I feel as if I have still had some losses in the upper middle and lower high frequencies. Cannot tell in the very high frequencies.

      Also, the left ear has had numerous problems already, with a lot of tinnitus, more rapid hearing loss, and a feeling of constant fullness, so I am not surprised that it was affected.
       
    2. GrosBalou
      Nerdy

      GrosBalou Member Benefactor

      Location:
      France
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Inner ear barotrauma (diving)
      Hello Lauren,

      You may indeed suffer from middle ear barotrauma (which usually cause ear pain but not in all cases). Most middle ear barotrauma heal naturally without the need of meds. However, the vertigos and the hearing loss could also indicate an inner ear barotrauma (a small one maybe, since you seems to be recovering well). While you can have both at the same time, inner ear barotrauma is hard to pinpoint until the middle ear get healed.

      I would heavily recommend you to see an ENT (or at least a GP) which could take a look at your ear, give you some local anti inflammatory for your middle ear and corticoids/vasodilatators to give you better chances of full healing. The sooner you get to see one, the better your chances are.

      Have a nice day !
       
    3. Lauren Morse
      Cowabunga

      Lauren Morse Member

      Location:
      Salt Lake City
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Accoustic Trauma/Migraines
      Thanks so much for the help and advice. As of later this morning my hearing has come back in the left to previous levels, except for some low frequencies by a slight amount.

      If it were not Thanksgiving (clinics will be closed) and if I had a more substantial loss, I would visit my practitioner to request steroids. Because the loss wasn't extensive, however, I would have a substantially tough time requesting steroids from anyone and winning my case. As the loss is extremely minor at this point, and because I have faith and anecdotal confirmation that things are getting better, I think I will just sit in the quiet and wait for things to improve on their own. And not to use those plugs on a plane again, of course.

      But thanks again!
       
    4. Andunwoody
      Fine

      Andunwoody Member

      Location:
      South Buckinghamshire, England.
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2009
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Left ear Otosclerosis, right ear virus.
      I had a similar problem flying from London to Atlanta in August, dizziness as well as the hearing loss. It resolved itself after a day of rest but during that rest period I did a bit of research online and found Tinnitustalk, every cloud and all that :). Following some advice I found on here I chewed gum during ascent and descscent and was fine on the return journey to London. I arrived in Miami from London on Monday and again no problems, I've come to the conclusion T is a very contrary customer and a complete law unto itself. Hope you are managing to have a great day, Happy Thanksgiving.
       

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