Tinnitus Kicked Off by Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, Ear Popping

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by MegMC, Mar 2, 2021.

    1. MegMC

      MegMC Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown, possible barotrauma, ETD, years of headphone use
      First, thanks to everyone in this forum. I've been reading many other threads and finding the information and support so so helpful.

      I've been suffering acutely with my tinnitus for about the past week. But the problems that kicked it off started about a month ago.

      I spent a week at a vacation rental that was up a very steep hill which gained about 1500 feet in elevation quite quickly and my ears would pop going up and down every day. I have a history of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, usually just after flying, so I have all kinds of tricks for dealing with plugged up ears, including a medical device called the EarPopper that blows air into the nostril to induce a Valsalva maneuver.

      After returning from the trip I noticed my right ear was feeling clogged and I began getting SBUTTS - sudden brief unilateral tapering tinnitus - when you hear a really loud high pitched ringing for a couple seconds followed by feeling of fullness in that ear. I've experienced this before, but I was getting every day for a while and leaving me with the sensation my ear was off.

      I began using the EarPopper constantly - more than the am/pm routine that is recommended. Because the left ear was somewhat clogged, the air would often go into the opposite right ear that had felt fine and I began to then feel pressure and warmth in that ear. Every once in a while when pressure was equalizing in the good ear, I would experience mild tinnitus but nothing I would dwell on.

      About a week and a half ago, my left ear was still causing me issues so I decided to take a short course of Prednisone I had left over from a previous prescription for my asthma I stopped early. The Prednisone didn't seem to help much but did cause my anxiety to sky rocket (I have anxiety disorder and find Prednisone often causes pretty bad psychological problems for me, thus why I stopped it earlier before).

      Meanwhile, my opposite "good" ear was feeling increasingly inflamed due to the constant ear popping. I also began to experience a lot of sound sensitivity at night where basically any noise would cause my tensor tympani to contract, bringing rumbling noises/sensations in my head. And sometimes a slight crackling sound with noises I think was my eustachian tube opening.

      I took a number of calibrated online hearing tests and while I do seem to have some subtle hearing loss in my left "clogged ear" at higher frequencies relative to the other ear, both seem firmly in the normal/good hearing range.

      One week ago, I had a freakout feeling a sense of pressure and vibration in my ears like I was on drugs. I decided to stop taking Prednisone. I had been taking 40-20 mg for 4 days prior.

      The next day the tinnitus became more prominent and ever-present in my "good" right ear. It's a high pitch whine that sort of sputters and alternates pitch like a tea kettle about to blow or an old dial up modem. I'd say the volume is quite low but because of the constant sputtering it's hard to block out once I hear it. I can mask it with most activity, noise from my air purifier, the refrigerator cycling etc. Going for walks outside pretty much alleviates it. But I get very upset when I hear it, while trying to concentrate on work, talking to my husband etc.

      Every morning when I wake up, I do not hear it. I don't know if it's just because I'm distracted or there's another reason. But each day I begin to pick it up some time between minutes to hours after waking and getting up and it seems to increase in assertiveness as the day goes on. I take Melatonin to sleep and usually don't have a problem.

      I work as a radio reporter so I usually spend all day wearing headphones and doing interviews on Zoom and then editing the audio, tracking in my closet booth etc. These activities give me plenty of opportunity to focus on the sound in my ears and my psychological state has not been good.

      I feel like I'm in a constant state of fight or flight. My usual methods for calming my nervous system I fear will make the tinnitus worse - I used to microdose with THC, like 2.5 mg and a bit more CBD. I'm also afraid to exercise as my preferred exercise is Peloton classes with music.

      I have called for an appointment with my healthcare provider but I want to make sure to have lots of information before I see someone as my GP has already dismissed my concerns as my usual eustachian tube dysfunction.

      Some random notes about my case and history:

      -- History of Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, frequent clogged ears as adult and ear infections as a kid, I had tubes as kid to deal
      -- I get a fluttering/throbbing sensation in my right ear that now has tinnitus now and then when showering, using electric toothbrush etc. I believe this is the tensor tympani spasming
      -- Current problem kicked off by altitude changes and subsequent irritation from using EarPopper/valsalva method frequently
      -- I have used headphones more frequently than most as I'm a radio reporter, but mostly listen to people talking not at high volume with them, not a big concert-goer

      I'm so grateful for this resource and for all the support that members here provide.

      If anyone has any insight as to what I should pursue medically or how I can begin to deal with this psychologically and emotionally I would so appreciate your input.
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. billie48

      billie48 Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      not sure
      Welcome to the forum. You are quite new with this and so psychologically the best approach is to have full acceptance of these symptoms and positively believe that given time they will improve. Try to stay calm to keep the limbic nervous system and the fight or flight mode off. Perhaps do some mild exercise like leisurely walking in nature to unwind the nerves. You can also try other calming natural supplements like Lemon Balm, Kava Kava, Chamomile etc instead of THC and CBD.

      Hopefully given time with the body healing itself you will find improvement.

      All the best. Take care. God bless.

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