Sudden Unexplained Tinnitus and Sound Sensitivity — Newbie Looking for Help

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by ee215909, Feb 16, 2021.

    1. ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      Hello all,

      I (30m 6/4' 215lb) have been reading through various posts over the past several days and I am looking for some guidance/support. About three weeks ago, I got a standard sinus/ear infection that included some pain in the ears, but had largely resolved itself within a few days. However, about 4/5 days later, I noticed that I had loud ringing in my left ear. Tinnitus is not something new to me, since I can remember, there have been plenty of quite nights where I have heard low level ringing that I contributed to childhood ear infections/in-ear headphones, and loud exposure events that happened in my teens/20s. Its nothing I was worried about and it sat very much in the background, unless I was sick, in a quiet room, or had those random moments where it would ring. However, that changed a couple weeks back when I notice my ringing a little higher and a new pulsating (or on/off) airy higher pitched tone that was also present in my left ear. It started to drive me mad and I made an appointment with my GP. GP fund nothing remarkable and noted that my left ear drum was more snug and he thought it was due to inflammation deeper in the inner ear. I was prescribed a 6 day Medrol Pak (Methylprednisolone)... that's were things started to spiral. (Been off the meds for a couple of days)

      First of all, I ended up having nearly every side effect possible (moodiness/anxiety/insomnia/stomach issues etc.) It was not a good experience. More importantly, I also started to develop a weird intolerance/sensitivity to sounds. I first noticed it in the high pitched noise coming from the back of the fridge, then at the supermarket, then in my bedroom fan, then most noticeably in the sound that a running faucet makes. (None of these things bothered me 2 weeks ago) However, over the course of the last few days, I am noticing it in nearly everything and I am going mad. I am not hearing that high pitch in our furnace, when I walk outside, and when I type on my computer. It is a certain pitch or tone that cause my body to react like nails on a chalk board or chewing on aluminum, it makes my skin crawl and now I am getting headaches and sweaty feet and palms. I can hear it a few times and step away and be somewhat ok, but longer exposure to theses noises seems to make my high pitch tinnitus very loud and will constantly ring in my head. Still not sure if it is my higher pitch tinnitus screaming at hearing things on the same frequency. (Not wanting to get into the whole reactive tinnitus debate, but my sensory perception is that there is some type of reaction).

      ***(Problematic noises don't have to be loud to bother me, it just certain frequencies that I picking up on. Other loud noises are no issue, nor do I see it as volume concern.)***

      Its like it finds a frequency that makes my teeth hurt, and I feel like I am going insane. My wife has been highly supportive, but at times I feel inconsolable with discomfort. I am worried and looking for advice on how to proceed/strategies on how to cope.

      Can tinnitus suddenly flair up for not reason?

      Can sound sensitivity grow stronger over time...can it "spread" to different sounds and to the other ear?

      How do I cope or get relief?

      Is there hope that everyday won't be miserable and keep getting worse?

      I am spiraling and have done my best to be positive based on the short duration it has been thus far, but I am stressed, exhausted/tired, emotional drained, uncomfortable, and losing hope with every day that it gets harder. The one saving grace is that I have an Audiologist and ENT appointment in a few days, despite it really meaning I am just at the begging of this journey, I am using it as something to look forward to.

      If you have advice or a story, I will take anything. Thanks all!
       
      • Hug Hug x 4
    2. Cernuto
      Spaced

      Cernuto Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2010
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced
      Yes, tinnitus will flare up for no reason. Yes, every day will not be miserable. Be patient and give it time. For relief during the darker, most challenging moments I have a few techniques. One involves running the shower or the sink for a few minutes while simply sitting, and focusing on the sound of the water instead of the tinnitus. Doing this temporarily relieves the bite of tinnitus long enough for me to get it together mentally so I can approach it with a calmer, more relaxed attitude.
       
      • Like Like x 5
    3. __nico__
      No Mood

      __nico__ Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2003
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      chemo/barotrauma/noise/autoimmune disorder
      This is the critical mistake. You were given Methylprednisolone by a doctor who probably didn't have your best interests at heart and it likely screwed around with your immune system and may have caused hydrops. Your sound distortions are characteristic of hydrops.

      How to get better? Time. Eat healthier, less salt and sugar, less carbs, more fats, more water, take anti oxidants/look up BDNF boosting etc. Hopefully with time this goes away. If it gets worse then a diuretic may or may not help you.

      I too suffer the distortions of sound, it started off exactly as you described it with piercing high frequencies but over 2 months it progressed to a sonic bath of distortions that are unlivable. Partially because I went on a second round of steroids out of desperation. It also gave me far worse problems too. Hopefully, you see improvement, the high pitched reactiveness did sort of go away for me.
       
    4. Matchbox
      Wishful

      Matchbox Member

      Location:
      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      Zopiclone. Pentoxifylline. Antioxidants. All together should reduce the ringing temporarily. All in low doses are safe.

      Antibiotics/antivirals if there's any proof for it (you might have some infection unchecked in your inner ear).

      Use ear plugs for a while when your ear starts to flutter.

      Melatonin to sleep.

      You'll be fine and all of this will be over in a few months (even with no treatment if there's no underlying cause). If it's quieter or silent in the morning your chances of recovery are huge.

      Stay FAR away from Prednisone if you found it made you worse coming off and especially worse while on (when systemic it can do more harm to your ears than good, treat it as an emergency medication).

      Stay away from excessive noise.

      See an ENT for emergency steroids in the ear if you have any hearing loss (audiogram below 15 dB compared to recent normal) or wake up half deaf. (It's not the same as taking oral steroids, almost none gets in the perilymph with oral where the effect is almost purely on blood vessels / nerves / suppressing your immune response / screwing up your limbic system hard).
       
    5. messedupmyears

      messedupmyears Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music
      I similarly have noise sensitivity that is in tandem with my newly developed tinnitus.

      Whenever I listen to even one song, or watch a sports game on low volume, it flares up and persists for a while usually until I can meditate it to a lower more manageable level.

      I’m still working on the situation myself, but my approach that is potentially working is to eliminate as many sounds as possible, avoid any high pitched frequencies in music or in exposures otherwise, when on the phone using low volume on speakerphone, and doing my best to consciously distract the subconscious frequency, because if I stress about the specific noise or even let it be present subconsciously (easier said than done) that it sometimes becomes more bothersome. If I’m doing something or researching something I’ve found that it subconsciously fades slightly, the key for me personally is to control my noise exposure and stress levels to get it to a more manageable place, but the tough part is that when I resume to additional activities or have to talk on the phone more or even just need to listen to a song or two in order to decompress, it then comes back. I’m passionate about music so it could be harder for me than others to cut out music entirely, but situations like this require lifestyle changes, and if you don’t work on it as much as you can in the early stages you’ll then regret that later if it doesn’t improve and then you’ll blame yourself for not being more cautious or making more lifestyle changes.

      Take care of your hearing, noise exposures, specific forms of noise exposure, and stress levels while still in the early stages.

      I hope your situation improves, and I hope that my advice helps in some way. Best of luck.
       
    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Tinnitus can flare-up for many reasons and it's not always easy to determine the exact reasons but it's important to try and find out. You have mentioned being no stranger to it, so its been in the background for many years and through habituation, managed to live quite comfortably with it until now. Your post indicates the original cause was noise induced due to in-ear headphones. Exposure to loud noise, headphones, earbuds and headset use are the most common causes of tinnitus.

      I believe your recent sinus and ear infection are the main causes for making you more aware of the tinnitus that has been laying dormant many years. The Ear, Nose and Throat are all linked. Any congestion or blockage here including a build up of earwax, would make the brain focus more on the internal noises within the head and body. This is well documented in the medical field. This is the reason Hearing Therapists and Audiologists, advise tinnitus patients to try and avoid being in quiet rooms and surroundings particularly at night by using sound enrichment. You will find more information on sound enrichment in my article: Tinnitus, A Personal View.
      This can happen. However, whether the tinnitus is perceived in one ear or two the sound is coming from one source within the brain. I was recently in correspondence with an Audiologist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management, she advised me the brain has only one auditory centre. Your increased oversensitivity to sound could be an indication of hyperacusis which may go away in time when the sinus and ear infection completely clears up. Ear infection are notorious for lingering on for as much 3 months. Ear infection cause a person to develop tinnitus when it wasn't previously there. Once the infection clears up the tinnitus usually goes away.
      Give it time and take the medication that you have been advised by your doctor, for the sinus and ear infection. Try to avoid quiet rooms and surroundings by using low level sound enrichment. Please click on the links below and read my articles. Try and not use headphones, earbuds or headsets for now, until the tinnitus returns to baseline. If you can use them as little as possible in the future would be good. It would better if you don't use them at all in my opinion, since you already have tinnitus.

      All the best
      Michael

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    7. AliasM
      Depressed

      AliasM Member

      Location:
      Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      Dec 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      ? Autoimmune, daily headaches, Ibuprofin, BP meds, Virus?
      My tinnitus is sometimes but not always quieter in the middle of the night when I wake up. Generally, it is quieter in the morning and gets louder as the day goes on. By 4pm every day it is hissing and screeching all over my head. I am 2.5 months in.

      Because it is quieter (sometimes) in the mornings, are you saying this a good sign of potential full recovery?
       
    8. Roy Steiner

      Roy Steiner Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I am silent every morning and saw someonE told you that's a good sign.
      Any further info.?
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      @__nico__

      Did things get better with time after being on the steroid pack? Did time lessen your symptoms? If not, did you do sound therapy?

      I am about a week off the meds, while I am still suffering from sensitivity to running water, fans, etc. It seems less volatile than before. I still feel like cringing around those noises, and they can make me feel very overly over stimulated, but slightly better.
       
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      @Matchbox, thanks for responding.
      I have heard this from a couple of people, but haven’t seen where it comes from.

      What makes you say that? Just curious as to the source/reasoning behind this. I am hoping you are right.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    11. shelbynn
      Overworked

      shelbynn Member

      Location:
      Michigan
      Tinnitus Since:
      T 11/20, D and H 1/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic
      I was also on Methylprednisolone and it only made things so much worse for me... I just had tinnitus. Now I have hyperacusis and sound distortion.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      I agree. I feel like it made it worse for sure.

      How are you doing? Have you seen any improvements with either?
       
    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      Update:

      I saw an ENT and Audiologist last Thursday (6 days ago).

      Both listened and took their time, didn’t feel rushed. Hearing exam came back normal, no hearing loss. ENT was perplexed by my symptoms, but after a look at my sinuses, put me on a 10 day course of Amoxicillin. He thought my continued congestion might be related to an infection, which is also causing my tinnitus/sound sensitivity.

      I am on day six of the course and unfortunately feel about the same. Tinny noises (water running, white noise, refrigerators) still bother me a lot. I am just reducing my exposure to them right now. Short showers, limited time in the kitchen etc. I can stand short bursts of tinny noises, but after hearing such noises, my whole hearing feels sensitive to all sounds. It’s like the sound sensitivity grows... does that sound insane? Still no pain, just makes me feel incredibly emotionally and physically uncomfortable.

      Tinnitus seems louder after being exposed to loud or tinny sounds too. Both seem better with quiet. Been running a humidifier at night as my background noise, and by morning both tinnitus and sound sensitivity feel way better. Upon waking I feel normal... I know that sounds crazy. However, throughout the day (within a couple hours) it builds and gets unbearable at times. I am getting daily headaches (tension headaches that start at the back of my head). These headaches seem directly connected to the uncomfortable reaction I am having regarding sounds. I can feel my jaw clinch as I get further exposed.

      Emotionally, I feel like I’m in a slightly better place… less emotion, less crying or anger. Still very frustrated and feeling overwhelmed. I noticed that when I distract myself deep in to work or with other things, my emotions and my recognition of what’s going on does improve… But that seems hard to do at times.

      ENT said to contract him after the 10 days if symptoms persist. Any advice on what to be doing while I wait and see. I have tried sound enrichment. Sometimes it feels like a good thing, sometimes it feels overwhelming, especially white/pink noises.

      @Michael Leigh any suggestions on what to use? I’m also starting acupuncture, which I’ve done in the past for other conditions and it has helped. Just thought it can’t hurt to give it a try. I have been taking Magnesium for a long time, but have not started any other supplements yet.

      Any and all advice is appreciated. You all have been amazing so far. Thank you so much!
       
    14. shelbynn
      Overworked

      shelbynn Member

      Location:
      Michigan
      Tinnitus Since:
      T 11/20, D and H 1/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic
      Thank you for your update! Unfortunately no. I still have sound distortion and have a new morse code beep in my left ear that wasn't there before. My right ear thumps now when I hear loud sounds or my blood pressure goes up. My sound sensitivity seems to also be about the same but I will say that I've been having more quiet days with my regular tinnitus than not. Very strange.

      I also struggle with sounds like the faucet/shower/microwave/plastic bags etc... They all sound loud and distorted like there's this strange cicada noise with it.
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      That’s a victory in some way. Good for you.
      I completely understand what you’re saying. It’s like I can tell myself that they don’t sound the same, but my brain hears the same kind of high pitch distorted pitch. I have noticed though that refrigerators used to really set me off, and either I’m noticing them less or they’re not making the same distorted noise as they once did... who knows.
       
    16. shelbynn
      Overworked

      shelbynn Member

      Location:
      Michigan
      Tinnitus Since:
      T 11/20, D and H 1/21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic
      I think this is definitely progress. I've been using the settings on my car heat as a gauge. When this first started happening even setting my heat to 1/4 would set off the distortions, now it takes getting up until 3/4 to set it off and it's not as intense. Today is a really, really bad day thought.
       
    17. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      Today I went in for my weekly acupuncture appointment and the room had an older fan running in it. I have been doing better as of late with fan noises and didn't think much of it. So the appointment starts and I get needled and am lying there... suddenly my left ear slowly starts to hurt, like deep ear pain. Dull at first, then more intense. I realize that that it might be the fan causing it, but I am stuck. I begin to panic and the pain really sets in at this point. Finally, they come to get me 45 minutes later and I am in pain. I come home, shower and the pain grows again. All of my triggers before are there, but now it appears that the pain in my left ear gets stronger when I hear them. Sitting sitting here in silence, my ear is still throbbing from talking to my wife while she showered.

      I am just worried I hurt my ear, and scared this will be a part of my normal. I am upset I didn't make them to turn it off, not sure what I was thinking.

      I am worried that my hyperacusis has evolved and pain is a competent. Has this happened to anyone else? Am I just panicking and blowing this out of proportion? Any and all advice and or honest feedback is appreciated.
       
    18. ajc

      ajc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2002; spike 2009; worse 2017-18
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music - noise damage
      To be honest your experience seems very much psychological. Hardly a fan can trigger such an extreme reaction.

      Wait a few days and try to relax your mind?
       
    19. twa
      Studious

      twa Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      2017- mild /Sept. 2020-moderate
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      meds/acoustic trauma
      I'm sorry you are going through this. It is very distressing and hard to explain to someone not expressing this condition. I have had very mild tinnitus for 3 years and then during quarantine I had a loud noise exposure and my tinnitus changed to very loud and constant. I also developed hyperacusis. Who knew there was such a thing?!!

      I went to see 4 different doctors. These are just my opinions when looking back over the first few weeks after my acoustic trauma. The ENT pressed his fingers inside my ear to show me that my problem was TMJ. I never had pain or a problem with my jaw until he pressed inside my ears. I did not know to wear earplugs to protect my ears outside the home or even inside if it is loud. I have the foam kind and wear them when going to appointments or to protect from road noise. Inevitably, there will be a sudden loud sound even when walking in my neighborhood.

      The biggest part of my initial battle was learning to relax and calm down. It has taken me 5 months to reduce my anxiety. I was so distraught that I was clenching my jaw when I slept.

      I wish you the best on your recovery. Feel free to message if you have any questions or would like to talk.

      twa
       
      • Like Like x 1
    20. Zugzug

      Zugzug Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Autoimmune hyperacusis from Sjogren's Syndrome
      This is my opinion. I think your sinus infection brought on increased tinnitus and (perhaps minor?) hyperacusis. You then took steroids, which has weaker results outside of a small window of opportunity.

      The thing about steroids and hyperacusis is that there's likely a strong ceiling effect. This is because the steroids do drastically help the inflammation, but after the inflammation is down, they don't do anything. Actually, they alter the brain in such a way (as you said) to increase anxiety and alertness.

      When I took steroids for hyperacusis, what happened is they helped a lot in the beginning, but then leveled off. We upped the dose and it provided no extra benefit, may have even made it worse. I seriously doubt the steroids caused hyperacusis. It's a lot more likely that you were developing hyperacusis and they just didn't help.

      If you feel confident that the cause is obvious, I would be hesitant to do loud tests that could make it worse. There are no drugs that treat hyperacusis so the main value of tests is to detect something treatable. Just be careful and give it some time, unless your doctor has really convincing reasons why a test could be beneficial.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    21. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      Update:

      Hello all,

      Thank you for taking time to respond. My situation is worse than it was when it first started. The pain that developed last week has persisted and has movements where certain noises cause it to be unmanageable. I have pain most of the day and have noticed that I am perceiving certain noises as very loud. There are moments when the pain subsides, but weirdly enough, noises that I don’t perceive as being loud can cause pain (i.e. typing on a keyboard). Honestly my ears are constantly fluctuating and in pain. Tinnitus roars when the ears are in pain and my sensitivity to certain tinny sounds remains, and has somewhat expanded. When I read about hyperacusis, sensitivity to loudness seems to be the clear trigger, but for me, being outside on a busy street/driving in my car is less bothersome than sustained typing on my keyboard or listening white noise at low levels in a quiet room. I also find that at night, beyond having the humidifier running, playing any type of noise or music really hurts my ears. Its almost like when I hear things in silence, my ear become hyper focused on the noise and pain sets in. My discomfort and pain routinely switch ears and noises that bother one time, don’t always bother me later. The pain can be unpredictable.

      The pain is the dull achy feeling in the ear/middle ear, some burning, pressure, and some pain in the jaw/jaw muscles. It will grow and then not go away for hours if I stay in a noise too long. I am worried that every time I feel pain (which is multiple times a day/hours) I am destroying my ears and my tolerance. I try to use ear plugs only when I am around loud noises, noises that I am sensitive to, or when I realize a noise is causing pain. Most of the time, I just try to leave the situation. But the randomness and fluctuations makes it really hard to determine which situation will be bad. Short of wearing ear protection all the time, what do I do? I am sacred that I am going to deteriorate into someone who can’t handle any noise.

      My ENT sent me to an Otologist after my pain set in. He formal diagnosed me with hyperacusis and made a referral to the Ohio State University Speech and Hearing Clinic, which is run by Dr. Gail Whitelaw. Did some research and she seems to have been writing papers, doing research, and speaking on hyperacusis for over a decade. Knowing that I am going to talk with one of her audiologists colleagues and a neurotherapist is the only thing I am hanging on to right now. I don’t know if they can help, but at least it’s a place that recognizes tinnitus/hyperacusis and that I can have conversation about what’s going on.

      In the end, I wanted to update you all but am also looking for advice or stories from people who have suffered through the pain. I am not in a good mental health space right now either (which I am sure is factor). I am scared, nervous, frustrated, sad, and just so unsure about what I need to be doing to help my situation and allow time for healing. The caring voices on this forum have been my rock during this storm, I am thankful for your time.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    22. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      ee215909
      Hurting

      ee215909 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown- Maybe Ear/Sinus Infection
      Update-3/9

      Hello all,

      This past Friday-Sunday my ears were feeling more normal than they had in a while (I almost didn't believe it). I had dinner with my in-laws on Saturday and dinner with my parents on Sunday. Both were low key affairs (at their houses), but more noise than I had been exposing myself to. I was worried, but I never got pain or discomfort. It was huge for my mental health to have conversations not about my ear or pain. Generally, I have been taking it easy, not really protecting, but not exposing myself to any loud noises. Going on walks and putting ear plugs in when I find something to be load. Only been experiencing some burning ear canal pain, but it has been manageable and a pleasant change.

      Well yesterday afternoon (Monday), my left ear started to throb out of nowhere. Like the deep, achy, ear infection pain that cuts right through me. When my ear pain is bad, I have a ton of ear fullness too… constant popping. It’s the first time in a week that I have had that kind of deep pain and I am perplexed. It started in silence, so what caused it? The weekend’s events? A noise on the street hours before? Nothing…? It kind of broke my spirit knowing that I can go from feeling somewhat normal back to being miserable in a matter of a couple of hours.

      Is this what people mean by setback or flare ups? Based on talking with people and reading stories, random bouts of pain sounds somewhat normal for the condition. But now my left ear feels raw and sensitive to everything, despite feeling almost no pain just a day or two ago. It is incredibly frustrating and I wonder if this cycle of pain breaks.
       
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