Popping in Ears Improved Hearing

Discussion in 'Support' started by steve10608, Apr 14, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. steve10608
      Supportive

      steve10608 Member

      Location:
      Boerne, Texas
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/01/2015
      I have had T for almost 3 months now When it started I became anxious and depressed. As most say it gets easier to live with as time goes on. Yesterday the high pitch tone was very loud. I'm not sure what made it spike. Last night my left ear started popping. It was very loud. It sounded like a single kernel of popcorn popping over and over. It would pop about ten times then stop, pop three or four times then stop, it would just pop intermittently. This went on for about ten minutes. I was starting to get worried that it wasn't going to stop. I blocked my nose forced air through my ears a few times. It finally stopped. The weird thing is that my T is milder this morning, and it seems that I can hear better out of that ear. Has this ever happened to anyone? Thoughts please?
       
      • Useful Useful x 1
    2. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Hi @steve10608 - Yes, this sort of thing happens to me often. In my case, it's jaw exercises that causes my ears to pop (and these exercises also stretch out the jaw muscles, resulting in a bit of an improvement the following day). It's short-lived for me, however, and is one of the many symptoms of TMJD.

      For other people who experience this phenomenon, it's connected with a form of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

      Generally speaking, unless if your tinnitus is directly caused by a middle ear blockage, the "waxing" and "waning" effect of tinnitus getting better after some neuromuscular stimulation, but then getting worse after normal use over time, is part of the neuromuscular inflammatory or infectious conditions that aggravate the head, neck, jaw, and back muscles. There's a pretty simple test you can have done to rule out Tinnitus caused by ETD -- a tympanometry. It's painless and takes just a couple of minutes at an ENT's office. Any disturbance or limitation in the ability of your ears to equalize their pressure will become immediately apparent, and can be used to provide treatment and therapy to restore your Eustachian Tube function.

      What testing have you had done to date? Do you know your cause?
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. steve10608
      Supportive

      steve10608 Member

      Location:
      Boerne, Texas
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/01/2015
      Hi.......Thanks for responding. In the early stages of my tinnitus I went to see a ENT. He simply look in my ears and said you have a condition called tinnitus. He recommended that I see an audiologist for hearing aids with masking. The ENT is supposed to be one of the best. I was very disappointed with him. I went to a Audiologist and he wanted to sell me some hearing aids with masking for 3-4k. I declined and decided to wait and see if my condition got better. The audiologist did say he thought mine might get better or completely go away. I am thinking my T is noise induced. I had a very bad virus that settled in my sinuses. My ears felt blocked and I just felt bad. I went to my family doctor and he said my ear drums were retracted and put me on antibiotics. I always thought antibiotics would do nothing for a virus. I tried them anyway. They did nothing to help. That's when I went to the ENT and audiologist. I did a very stupid thing at the very beginning of all this that I will always regret. I fired a rifle forgetting to wear my hearing protection. That's when the ringing actually started. I am unsure if it was the virus that caused the T or the noise from the rifle. I appreciate your concern and any advise.
       
    4. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Hi @steve10608 -

      My pleasure, happy to help, where I can!

      Generally (and I know this isn't a great answer here), especially when it comes to Tinnitus, the simplest explanation as to what happened to cause your Tinnitus is actually the one that is closest to the truth. The logical principle of Occam's Razor actually provides a great deal of comfort to many of us who have some pieces of the background information about the days and events leading up to the initial onset of our Tinnitus, as a way of conferring a sense of peace as to what has happened. In short, based upon your post earlier today, there are two likely scenarios (assuming the factors that are likely to have contributed to your Tinnitus were completely known and disclosed as per above):

      1. Either you fired a rifle without hearing protection, and this caused your Tinnitus (since it started immediately thereafter); OR,

      2. You fired your rifle without hearing protection and ringing started immediately thereafter, but instead, either a virus, or Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, or sinus infections, actually was responsible for your Tinnitus.
      The second scenario isn't impossible - in fact, a lot of the research I've read suggests that the neural misfiring in the auditory nerve pathways of the brain routinely misfire for pretty much everyone, but just at very low and nearly undetectable rates. (Some people describe this as "incidental" or "transient Tinnitus.") So, it's possible you've been suffering from a low case of infection or ETD-aggravated Tinnitus, and the rifle fire without hearing protection happened to trigger a cascade reaction that amplified the secondary neuropathy responsible for producing your particular Tinnitus.

      However, I don't think it's likely that this is what happened, unfortunately. I think your rifle encounter is the most likely explanation to have caused your Tinnitus, which is both good and bad.

      Damage to hearing is the most likely cause of Tinnitus, and the most clearly understood. Unfortunately, it also is permanent and has no cure. So even though medical practitioners do know that permanent damage to hearing organs causes hearing loss and cochlear nerve damage that is irreparable, they don't really know why the brain is misfiring to create Tinnitus. One way of thinking about it is that Tinnitus itself is not the disease - it's just a symptom, and this is generally true no matter what caused your Tinnitus. In my case, my dysfunction is a chronic condition consisting of a spasming series of head and neck muscles aggravated through months (possibly years) of high stress, poor posture, and terrible sleep. Chronic conditions, however, don't represent the majority of Tinnitus cases, and most Tinnitus cases will ultimately be directly correlated to a loss in hearing.

      The good news here, however, is that, sometimes (rarely) Tinnitus is treatable when you know the cause. When people suffer from pulsatile Tinnitus (which actually should be thought of as a vascular condition, rather than as a neurological one), there is hope that the underlying circulatory conflict can be corrected. With damage to hearing organs, while this damage tends to be permanent, the Tinnitus itself need not be. The Armed Forces have amassed decades of research connected to hearing loss and Tinnitus derived from hearing loss, and I am personally confident that solutions for veterans who suffer from Tinnitus (and by extension, to the general public who have had hearing-damage-caused Tinnitus) are just years away, not decades.

      So there is hope here, and things you can do right now to help yourself, and it comes in various forms:

      1. See an ENT, again.
        Get a second opinion from an ENT specializing in hearing damage and Tinnitus as a side effect. You shouldn't give up on the medical profession because -- while it is true that Tinnitus is very poorly understood, and ENTs even disagree with neurologists as to what exactly is going on -- damage to hearing organs is, fortunately, treatable, but you need a thorough analysis first. Where have you lost your hearing? What conditions exacerbate your Tinnitus? Is the sound directly corresponding to the loss of frequency perception? There's a chance - however remote - that wearing a hearing aid or cochlear implant may cause the Tinnitus to go away, but only a doctor can advise you about the likelihood of that happening.

      2. Start Masking and Protecting.
        If you're not masking already, you should. I've read that people who suffer from hearing damage can improve their habituation rates by masking. Additionally, you should be protecting your hearing so that further damage is not sustained. People who damage their hearing are more likely to suffer from additional hearing damage, even at lower amplifications, than people who have relatively undamaged hearing organs.

      3. Accelerate Habituation.
        Habituation is inevitable for everyone - no matter how loud your Tinnitus or debilitating its effects. For the first 90 days, Tinnitus is an an "acute" phase (largely an arbitrary measure, but the American Tinnitus Association is using a few uniform standards derived from neuropsychology): firstly, this means that your mind doesn't know how to interpret this incorrect stimulus and the parasympathetic system is eliciting a "fight-or-flight" response which causes distress and panic -- this is entirely subconscious - and over time, as your body realizes that Tinnitus is not some mortal threat, it will begin to push its neurological response down into the sympathetic system (or the limbic) system, which will enable you to perceive the Tinnitus (and it will still be distracting) but you won't be sent into a state of horror by it. After you have exited the acute phase, you will start to notice considerable improvements in your ability to concentrate and focus beyond/past the Tinnitus. Over time (the average is 12-18 months), you will eventually be able to ignore the Tinnitus completely. There is no hard-and-fast rule for how long it takes people to become habituated, and in truth, it's not a "cure" because the Tinnitus is still there, it's just that you simply don't care. For some people, this happens very quickly; for others, it can take many months or even years. You can accelerate your body's natural pace at habituating by undergoing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (abbreviated as CBT on this forum). CBT, and the various psychological treatments associated with them, train you to stop obsessing with the Tinnitus and further amplifies non-obsessive and non-compulsive behaviors, which become preferred neural pathways. In time, you simply become habituated sooner.
      So, like veterans of the armed forces, there is a chance that medical care can cure or resolve the Tinnitus caused by the deficit to your hearing as a result of firing your rifle without hearing protection. In fact, I've personally witnessed an in-law relative who has had Tinnitus since he fought in Vietnam discovering that by wearing advanced hearing aides that restore high frequency perception, the Tinnitus faded away to the point that he was disturbed by the silence for the first time in 40 years. You need not wait that long, if you're a candidate. That said, the use cases where hearing aides will cure Tinnitus are very rare and usually apply to very specific types of cochlear damage caused by over-exposure.

      Your best bet is to accelerate habituation. It may seem like it's easier said than done, but it's actually easier done than said: habituation is less about trying to do something, and more about trying not to do something; that is, habituation is the journey away from Tinnitus and back towards silence. There are numerous success stories on this site about how people have self-habituated mainly by approaching this cognitive behavioral mindset, and I would absolutely encourage you to follow in their footsteps. Since you've had Tinnitus now for a couple of months, and since you are starting to show some signs of improvement connected with your ear-popping, there's a good chance that your habituation might be commencing.
       
    5. MidnightOilAudio
      Wishful

      MidnightOilAudio Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2015
      Kaelon, that is a very thoughtful and well laid-out response.

      I am new to T as well (1 month tomorrow) and I personally have followed the path you describe while in the "acute phase" to a T. The first 2 weeks were utter hell. I had no appetite, thought my life was oveR, couldn't concentrage, couldn't sleep, was borderline suicidal, and I finally broke down in the parking lot of the ENT's office who told me, with my wife in the room, "maybe it'll go away, maybe it won't". I cried like a baby when we got to the car and said I don't know how I could go on like this, that it had ruined my life, I didn't want to live like this anymore, etc. she was very comforting and reassuring that I was still very new to it, and that it may still go away on it's own, but if it didn't, we would adjust.


      That night, the habituation started. I felt like, by hitting rock-bottom, the "human spirit kicked in". It started very slowly at first. I'd go 30 seconds without thinking about it. Then a minute. Then 2 minutes. Then 5 minutes. I am still bothered by it, but my apetite is back, I am sleeping better and my mind will wander off of T for 20-30 min at a time, which was UNTHINKABLE only 2 weeks ago.

      I feel so bad for all new sufferers who post here, because I know exactly how they feel, and are in disbelief when others post that they "just got used to it and don't think about it much anymore". I am not there yet, but I am on my way, and it is 100% possible.

      Sympathy for all those affected. Life goes on.
       
    6. Geo

      Geo Member Benefactor

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2012
      @steve10608 i went shooting without ear protection and towards the end i shot a loud 45 that popped my left ear got tinnitus for that day but it went away.. But it left me with distortion for a week or two.. Fast forward six months and and my T came to life thru stress at the time.. Weird because the blast left me with some hearing loss but no T and from stressing about a situation months later it arises i found it odd..
       
    7. kasart
      No Mood

      kasart Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unspecified
      Kaelon: Your input is helpful. One interesting aspect is - I NEVER had any "T" for over 40 yrs., had hearing-loss all my life and everything was great, until a head concussion. Therefore, "T" can be triggered for different reasons and is not always a symptomatic phantom sense of hearing due to loud noise exposure, cochlea damage or age-related issues etc. It varies for every individual and it's the "highly-qualified" $700/hr specialist in the field to do their job to evaluate every patient individually. The worse part, my "T Specialist/Surgeon/Researcher"- after two appts. caused further damage to my hearing, cochlea AND added NEW neurological problems, which I'm currently trying to undo = $$$

      In order to help others avoid what I went through due to our lousy healthcare system, is that every person needs to go by their instinct for their own protection. Document what occurred that may have triggered their T & H. Then, go by your sense of how your Specialist/Dr. treats you, discusses your symptoms etc. If he/she displays ignorance or is condescending - RUN. Their JOB is to provide options, try different alternatives, medication, full work-ups and provide a sense of empathy to help with your pain. Do NOT do surgery for "T". Trust me - I am only sharing my (awful) experience to aid others.
       
    8. Kaelon
      Wishful

      Kaelon Member Benefactor Team Tech Team Awareness Team Research

      Location:
      Boston, Mass.
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Muscle Spasms
      Hi @kasart -

      Yes, hearing loss and Tinnitus are not mutually-required events to happen. Many people deal with hearing loss their whole lives but never have Tinnitus. Other people have Tinnitus that has nothing to do with Hearing Loss. There's a great flowchart for figuring out what might have caused your Tinnitus that I recommend, and also some reflections that I posted about a while ago about what might aggravate or worsen already-existing Tinnitus that may prove helpful. But the truth is, in most cases of Tinnitus, the actual cause will never be known. Even so:
      • Tinnitus, as a neuropathological manifestation (symptom) of some true underlying factor (cause), is in most cases (but obviously not all) associated to some degree with damage to hearing organs.

      • There is a common story about people who experience Tinnitus over time, rather than those who have a sudden and dramatic onset: long periods of high stress, poor health, chronic lack of sleep all essentially contributing to a growing perception of an increasing Tinnitus stimulation that just one day becomes very noticeable and evident.
      You are also absolutely right about being wary for ENTs and avoiding surgery. Even in cases where the underlying cause is known, there are only a few surgeries that are known to definitively cure Tinnitus - and in those cases, Tinnitus has a neurovascular component. So, in other words, Tinnitus caused by hearing overexposure, by neuromuscular inflammation, by ototoxicity, etc., do not yet have any surgical procedures that can help.

      I'll keep you in my thoughts as you make a journey towards silence. Be well!
       
      • Helpful Helpful x 1
    9. kasart
      No Mood

      kasart Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unspecified
      @Kaelon: Thank you. Your info./source was VERY helpful, esp. the flowchart, I was unaware of. Oftentimes, this requires repetition as you did, adding the link again. Eventually, this info. becomes lost in the mass of posts or for newbies not familiar with the forum.

      Still working on my -true- diagnosis, which was further complicated by unnecessary surgery.
      All I required was a thorough evaluation like ANY of the ones from that flowchart. I just did not know at the time, unaware of tests, their existence and/or purpose. What sickens me, is that I've learned these tests were/are AVAILABLE where I went, but for some reason I was not provided any.
      Don't ask me why. I ask myself this daily, which I have no answer. Surgery was my "only option".
      I placed all my trust into one smooth-talking Specialist/researcher who has an elaborate "T" website. I've realized now, many Surgeons/Spec. market themselves to draw more patients (w/ mindset of adding them to any funded research) and does not mean patients will get the care they desperately require. Due to not having ANY pre-op tests for "T", I now require even MORE invasive surgery for re-correction or at least the ability to function. This, of course I am not inclined to repeat, as no one knows the outcome, which may further worsen. (Ironically, I've become a research "guinea-pig").
      I have lost trust and faith in most Drs.
      From this experience, I strongly suggest people to go to any important appts/consults. with another person to protect themselves as "T" sufferers are so desperate to do anything.
      Will keep your name in mind to read any other helpful posts. as they're encouraging & unbiased.
       
    10. steve10608
      Supportive

      steve10608 Member

      Location:
      Boerne, Texas
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/01/2015
      Kaelon................Thank you so much for the very valuable information. When T first came on I thought my life was over. I will not let it ruin my life. I really appreciate the very detailed reply. I hope I am able to help someone as I continue to deal with this . I appreciate the help my friend.
       
    11. steve10608
      Supportive

      steve10608 Member

      Location:
      Boerne, Texas
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/01/2015
      GEO...............that is very odd. I am beginning to believe anything can happen with this unpredicable condition. Keep me posted on your progress.
       

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