Terrible Distortion, Dizziness, Nausea, Headaches, Ear and Jaw Pain, Plus Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by imaginElizabeth, Mar 30, 2022.

    1. imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hello - 39(F) singer/songwriter, composer, and private instructor has laid LOW for a month with debilitating distortion in right ear. I have had some high-pitched ringing in left ear for 3 years but no issues in my right ear.

      Beginning of March 2022 I was on antibiotics for a probable ear infection - fullness, pressure, pain in my right ear.

      A week later during my regular vocalizing I noticed a secondary tone accompanying my voice. While not pleasant I was still able to continue doing my private lessons, writing at the piano, etc.

      Mid-March I flew to visit a friend across the country and, while there (Denver), I noticed worsening symptoms of distortion in my hearing during speech and music both. Suddenly I had horrible vertigo on my last morning there. I flew home, and everything has gone downhill from there. I can’t teach, sing, play, watch movies, listen to music without terrible distortion, dizziness, nausea, headaches. There’s pain around my ear, especially behind it. Tingling and numbness in face and base of skull. Pain in my jaw, and a “caught” or constricted feeling in my neck at the base of my skull.

      Audiologist says I have LF hearing loss and ENT ordered an MRI in two weeks.

      I am BESIDE MYSELF with grief over this ongoing condition. My whole life, living, and purpose are being robbed from me. I pray and cry - am on steroids, muscle relaxers, Ginkgo biloba.

      THIS CANNOT BE MY LIFE NOW.
       
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    2. DimLeb

      DimLeb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic Cochleopathy or Maybe Loud Music
      Sorry you're going through such a horrible situation. I really feel for you since I'm a musician too and music is my only purpose and life.

      The distortion you're describing is like a tinnitus tone appearing over external sounds or is it diplacusis, like the right ear hears sounds at a different pitch at their source (either at some frequencies or all)? Have you tried checking it with a tone generator?

      I know the situation is really distressing, as I myself went through episodes of having reactive tinnitus tone, and diplacusis, thankfully temporary.

      Unfortunately, I can't advise you more than getting opinions from various ENTs, otologists etc.
       
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    3. InfiniteLoop
      Relaxed

      InfiniteLoop Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Redwood City, California
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/21/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      High frequency hearing loss in left ear from head trauma (?)
      @imaginElizabeth, the symptoms that you mention sound like Meniere's, labyrinthitis or similar. Perhaps the infection that you had in March and you took antibiotics for did not really clear up. Microbial overgrowth in the middle ear is often overlooked as cause of apparently unrelated hearing issues. Saying this, I am not a doctor and I am just speculating from the readings accumulated during my tinnitus years.
       
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    4. GeorgeLG
      Wishful

      GeorgeLG Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower, rock band, constr & comp shooting, chemo
      I am a musician that has gone through a similar situation, I literally feel your pain. I am retired so I don't make a living with it and I am not much of a song writer but after the loss of my wife it was my only joy in life. I don't have the vertigo or too much distortion but I have tinnitus and severe ear pain from normal sounds. Definitely rule out treatable underlying causes because there may be an opportunity for you. Be careful with MRIs because they are very loud. There is a good thread here on quiet Canon/Toshiba machines that members report success with.

      Here is what I have learned so far:

      It is a shock and depressing at first but eventually you will need to accept this, at least for now and try to relax and not panic or get paralyzed with fear and what if thinking because it makes all of this worse. There is a good thread on the emotional aspect of all of this called Back to Silence. I have been able to ignore my tinnitus but I am still working on my ear pain. Some initial rest and protection may be required to settle everything down, many people get better with time. You will need to listen to your body to find out what helps. I have been able to return to some recording and playing with various earplugs, reduced volumes, frequent breaks, softer sounds and no headphones. All of this is throwing off my timing because I am used to a strong drum beat in my cans for tracking but I am adopting. My ear pain appears to have a forward head posture/TMJ component to it so I have started working on my posture.

      When choosing doctors try to find those experienced with your conditions, they are hard to find but are out there. You can get better but it will take some time. Don't read too many depressing stories and try to read the occasional success story, it will improve your outlook.

      All the best, you are not alone.

      George
       
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    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      It’s like listening to a blown speaker or robotic filter over all sounds (in my right ear only). Water and children’s voices, violins and singing, are the worst. There’s also a constant low roaring in my right ear.

      Honestly I feel like I’m living in a nightmare. It sounds (ha) like you can relate, which is helpful to know. <3
       
    6. ZFire
      Movie buff

      ZFire Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012 (mild) & 04/2021 (severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ototoxicity (2012) Unknown-likely noise induce (2021)
      I had the robotic distortions in people’s voices. The blown out speaker distortion was prevalent in music, it made any music extremely difficult to comprehend... These particular distortions took about 4 months to fully dissipate. It’s still pretty early, I’m sure it will settle down for you at some point.
       
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    7. Greg Sacramento

      Greg Sacramento Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Syringing + Somatic tinnitus from dental work
      @imaginElizabeth, first happening - possible inflammation of vestibular nerve cells; may be caused by viral infection. Reason being all that I highlighted in quote below happened after flight.
      Your flight. Whenever there is a change in pressure in the surroundings, the volume of gas inside the body leads to barotrauma. You may not have experienced acute barotrauma. You already had an ear infection maybe confirming inflammation of vestibular cells caused by a viral infection. Inflammation of vestibular cells caused by an infection do not like air pressure change. I would talk to your doctor and get tested for a viral infection. Your flight and problems that developed afterwards may confirm a viral infection over any other ear condition. Barotrauma or air pressure change can also cause distortion, dizziness, nausea, headaches. Pain around the ear, especially behind it. Tingling and numbness in face and base of skull. Pain in jaw, and a “caught” or constricted feeling of neck at the base of skull.

      Laboratory tests for viral infections | DermNet NZ
       
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    8. DimLeb

      DimLeb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Idiopathic Cochleopathy or Maybe Loud Music
      We all here can relate to this crap! And there's not much you can do unfortunately, than just waiting it out... I suggest you use a tone generator (at low volumes of course) and check which frequencies are problematic. I know that it won't help fixing it, but you will have a better idea of what's happening.

      I personally don't think I had the broken speaker thing, but I had for a short amount of time diplacusis which caused a robotic dissonance between the two ears at some mid-range frequencies. Yeah, not fun at all.
       
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    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      UPDATE:

      First, just a huge thanks to everyone who has commented here!

      Friday morning I saw a physical therapist who said my posture was tilted to the left and my jaw was uncommonly clenched. She worked on it and gave me a closing/opening exercise to do every hour. In the afternoon/evening I was in a lot of pain in my jaw and head but I just kept doing the exercise softly and took some extra strength Tylenol. I feel like somewhere in the afternoon the distortion got “lower” in my right ear. I recognized the sound as something I’d heard (very briefly) at rare times when I thought my jaw was just “popping”. It’s a gravely metallic kind of tone. The roaring also seemed louder.

      However, today the roaring is less and high squealing sounds typical to my left ear (and “normal” tinnitus?) are now present along with the distortion of higher tones.

      I’m continuing the jaw exercise and trying to be more conscious of relaxing my jaw.

      I’m having a massage on Tuesday and then seeing physical therapist again Thursday morning.

      Feels like forward motion even though I still can’t work or go anywhere without an earplug in my right ear.
       
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    10. GeorgeLG
      Wishful

      GeorgeLG Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower, rock band, constr & comp shooting, chemo
      So glad you are getting some relief.

      George
       
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    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Anyone have any experience with acoustic neuroma?
       
    12. Greg Sacramento

      Greg Sacramento Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Syringing + Somatic tinnitus from dental work
      @imaginElizabeth, it still may be not a bad idea to get tested for infection/inflammation, but your TMJ issues may have developed due to stress maybe from developing tinnitus.

      One common symptom of TMJ disorders is ear pain. Many patients suffering from TMJ disorders do often go to an ENT specialist thinking that they have an ear infection, although sometimes both are happening. In many cases, it takes a while before the right diagnosis is made.

      When a TMJ disorder affects the ears, the patient may either experience a sharp pain in the ear or a low-level dull ache or pain around my ear, especially behind it. Also tingling and numbness in face and base of skull and jaw pain or constricted feeling in neck at the base of skull. To add, your cross-country flight - air pressure change could also be part of the equation as that can cause ear and jaw pain or increase it with all mentioned in this paragraph.

      If the TMJ disorder is caused by an inflection, treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories are needed.

      Treating TMJ disorders through the use of muscle relaxants should reduce muscle spasms. Your physical therapy where a variety of exercises are done in order to stretch and relax the jaw and the affected muscles may help and using a splint may reduce symptom severity. Good luck.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thank you, Greg!

      Yes, I agree with everything you’ve said here and actually did go on an antibiotic to cover any lingering infection. Also added to the timeline is some dental work done the week prior to symptoms starting, which I’m finding out can cause all of these symptoms! It’s usually not considered by physicians and may be a big contributor to TMJ and tinnitus.
       
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    14. GeorgeLG
      Wishful

      GeorgeLG Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Leaf blower, rock band, constr & comp shooting, chemo
      @Greg Sacramento, my noxacusis follows your description of the TMJ link. TMJ showed up simultaneously with my ear pain on that side all on the heels of rapidly worsening forward head posture all related to my cancer drugs.

      What is the right type of doctor or therapist for me to visit to get help with this?

      Thanks,
      George
       
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    15. Greg Sacramento

      Greg Sacramento Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Syringing + Somatic tinnitus from dental work
      @GeorgeLG, I don't know if you use noise blocking headphones, but TMJ development can quickly happen for us older having noxacusis when wearing tight noise blocking headphones. Bending head forward for us older while wearing noise blocking headphones can also pressure the neck and jaw joints.

      I would just continue your posture study and maybe try a thin strong mouth guard. At our age and with what we having going on; it's often best to just take the low road.
       
    16. TomBradyGOAT

      TomBradyGOAT Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Who knows
      My mother has it. She has Alzheimer's, so they did an MRI and it was a reported finding. She did have tinnitus for two years but it went away. They monitor the growth every year to make sure it doesn't press against the brain. Surgery is a last resort because you lose your hearing a lot of the time.

      I had the distortion at first, only when my kids yelled. Honestly it went away. I think for me, I was so scared of tinnitus/sound that if I knew they were yelling, my ear muscles tensed. Everyone is different though.
       
    17. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Update: MRI showed... NOTHING. A couple atypical arteries crossing that *might* cause hearing loss. But I don’t have hearing LOSS, I have DISTORTION. Pain continues in my jaw, ear, neck, and shoulder. Hissing intense in the OTHER ear now. Going off all meds and sticking with Ginkgo biloba, Ashwagandha, B complex, etc. Elimination of caffeine, dairy, gluten, and sugar in process. Reading a lot about jaw misalignment, long COVID-19, etc.

      NEED MY HEARING BACK TO LIVE MY LIFE.
       
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    18. Wrfortiscue
      Cowabunga

      Wrfortiscue Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Trauma
      You’re gonna get through this, hang in there <3
       
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    19. beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      I started suffering from distortions as well. Back in October 2021, and while they worsened through my own complacence in February, I am relieved to say there has been a slow, but noticeable improvement since then. My symptoms may not have been as severe as yours, but like you I took it upon myself to make dietary changes, started taking supplements, and reduced my exposure to noise pollution.

      The beginning is always the hardest. I remain hopeful that you will recover, in time. You've got this.
       
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    20. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      imaginElizabeth

      imaginElizabeth Member

      Location:
      Quincy, IL
      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      @beefling, did you see a doctor of any kind? Was there an occurrence like COVID-19 or ear infection that started the distortion?
       
    21. beefling

      beefling Member

      Location:
      Nova Scotia, Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cumulative noise/Dysacusis
      @imaginElizabeth, I have yet to contract COVID-19, and no ear infection either, although my symptoms occurred about two weeks after recovering from a particularly nasty cold. Maybe sooner, and I just hadn't noticed them.

      I'm still not 100% on what the catalyst was that sparked the onset of my distortion, but my best guess is a long and cumulative exposure to ambient noise. I also used earbuds pretty frequently to listen to music. The aforementioned cold may have kickstarted those symptoms.

      I've been to see my GP and a few different audiologists - one of which specializes in tinnitus. Still haven't been able to pinpoint any cause. Hearing is within normal parameters. Waiting to schedule an appointment with an ENT. I live in Canada so wait times for specialists are brutal. Been meaning to see a dentist about TMJ as well, although I haven't been experiencing anything terribly significant with regard to jaw pain/discomfort, but that doesn't rule it out.

      The circumstance that brought us both here may have been different, but after living with this for the past 5 and a half months or so, and reading anecdotes from other people, I feel optimistic that you'll recover from the worst of the distortions.
       
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