Tinnitus Possibly Exacerbated by Earwax Buildup — Will It Improve After Removal?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Ace, Oct 3, 2021.

    1. Ace
      Musical

      Ace Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud jam session, of course on top of years of performance
      Some context first. If you want to get straight to the point I guess you can just go to the last two paragraphs. Please note, I have read most of the earwax-related threads here that I could find. Please feel free to ask me additional questions, because someone may come along and learn from my experience as I have learned from many others here, so I don't mind taking the time to provide additional details.

      I've noticed the tinnitus in my left ear has seemed to be louder than my right since over a year ago. Not unbearably so, but a nuisance considering my tinnitus is already annoying. The past couple weeks in particular, I feel as though I'm in a bit of a tinnitus spike despite not doing over-doing it with noise exposure, though I caught two flights last month and attended a few concerts, one as a performer (of course, using the appropriate hearing protection for all relevant situations!).

      I went to get a replacement pair of musicians earplugs made about two months ago, and the audiologist who did the earmolds informed me that I had significant build-up of earwax in my left ear. This is the first time I had seen a medical professional in years aside from my COVID-19 shots so this was news to me, and I suspect the build-up is began at some point in the past three years as a result of periodic over-reliance on earplugs for long work shifts, long drives etc, and one of the pairs I was using is a particularly deep set (If you read my old threads you may have more context, but I'll just note that I've gotten much less reliant on hearing protection over time and my experiences with distortion and heightened sensitivity have decreased, so I mostly just wear plugs in super noisy environments, concerts, and during spikes such as now).

      Anyways, although the audiologist mentioned that the buildup seemed significant, I haven't noticed any difference in my hearing. Seems fine! I do wonder if my tinnitus is still being made worse by it despite that fact, though (any thoughts on this?). I have an appointment on Wednesday with the ENT for wax removal, have been applying some olive oil drops every day to soften the stuff, and will be requesting that the procedure be done only with a curette because I don't want to take my chances with microsuction given what I've read on these forums.

      To be honest, I am trying not to get my hopes up that this procedure will improve my tinnitus at all, and admittedly a bit nervous about introducing other issues as a result, but I know bigger issues may arise down the line if I just leave the wax alone to build up. The olive oil also seems to contribute to the spike, but maybe that's just my imagination.

      For those of you who have had tinnitus exacerbated by earwax that was subsequently removed, did you find that your tinnitus improved, and if so, how long did it take for you to notice an improvement?
       
    2. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Ace
      Musical

      Ace Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud jam session, of course on top of years of performance
      So here's something I learned today at my appointment:

      According to the ENT I saw, applying olive oil drops does not help with earwax removal by curette at all. Curette is better for more solid wax, whereas olive oil is used to make it more goopy which helps with microsuction, if you were to go that route... But given the cautionary tales I have seen on this site, I felt it best that I avoid microsuction.

      Doctor said my options are as follows-

      1. At home, spray a bit of purified water into my downward-facing ear to start to dislodge the wax. Should be successful at removing the wax after several days in a row. Seems a little too good to be true?

      2. Wait some time and allow the wax to solidify again, then see him again for curette procedure.

      3. Suck it up and get the microsuction. Pun intended.


      Thoughts on this? If i can really do it at home, i would rather do that, but i want to be careful and not go about this the wrong way.

      Side note, curette worked on the right ear because there wasn't as much wax and I didn't use as much olive oil on that side either. Still it was a respectable amount of wax. Some discomfort during the procedure because I'm a sensitive weenie. Aside from a very brief pain sensation just now as I'm back in bed, no side effects to speak of at this time. T on right side may be quieter now but it's hard to tell because T in left sure has been sticking out like a sore thumb in comparison for a long time lol.
       
    3. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      I initially tried to have my wax removed at home by using an ear irrigation kit. I think my tinnitus got a little worse from that.

      I'd insist on having it done manually with a curette. No compromises.

      Good luck,
      Stacken
       
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    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Ace
      Musical

      Ace Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud jam session, of course on top of years of performance
      Noted. Thanks for sharing your experience. Do you think your tinnitus was permanently affected by that, or did it go back to previous baseline?

      I do wonder though, if there is some other drop besides olive oil that might work better at allowing the earwax to fall out on its own. Does anyone have any experience with the alternatives explored in this video? This ENT says that olive oil, albeit commonly used, is not very useful past a certain point.

      Ear Wax - Which Ear Drops are the best?
       
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    5. Stacken77
      Wishful

      Stacken77 Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Sweden
      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise (likely headphones & cars), Acoustic trauma did me in
      As far as I know, I believe the worsening was permanent. I did it shortly after my initial acoustic trauma, and my ears were a bit sensitive.
       
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    6. Matchbox
      Wishful

      Matchbox Member

      Location:
      BC Canada
      Tinnitus Since:
      August 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Induced, Prednisone (drones), Barotrauma (distortions)
      @Ace, did your buzzing 500 Hz ever resolve? Been awhile.
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Ace
      Musical

      Ace Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud jam session, of course on top of years of performance
      I'm sorry to hear that :(

      And update from me...

      This morning I'm feeling a bit of intermittent popping/clicking/movement right around my left eardrum. This is not a jaw popping feeling, nor does it seem like a typical Eustachian tube feeling, nor is it the typical Tensor tympani "rumble". I can recreate this popping feeling by bending down to grab something on the floor, but it also seems to come on from more subtle movements.

      My fear is that when the ENT was looking in my left ear to assess whether the wax could be extracted with a curette, he may have pushed it further in and touched the ear drum (I did feel a slight pain deep in there when he was looking), and now as I leave the wax alone to dry it might be affecting something in there. However, maybe this is a positive thing as well, a sign that the wax might be more ripe to be moved manually. Can anyone relate to this feeling?

      I'm gonna schedule another ENT appointment ASAP. I think perhaps time is of the essence here.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Ace
      Musical

      Ace Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud jam session, of course on top of years of performance
      Ah yes, the F3-or-so tone. I don't know why I originally stated it to be around 523 Hz, because I think it would be more accurate to say the center of that reactive area is 173 Hz. But I am happy to report that I have been able to successfully take my mind off of it, to the point that it may as well not be there. It does not affect me while I make my music, nor does it affect me while I go on about my day-to-day business, or anything like that. I am not sure if this is due to habituation or what, but I feel like the effect is much less now, and it does not pose a hindrance almost ever. What I will say is this - like tinnitus, if I go looking for it, I can find it. Yes I do hear it bounce off the outside traffic from blocks away, as I had a couple years ago when I made that thread. But just as soon as I can draw my attention to it, I am able to take it away without granting it power over my mental state.

      I will say that sometimes my tinnitus flares up, and sometimes my sensitivity towards certain frequencies flares up. For almost a month now, due to the earwax I suspect, the tinnitus in my left ear is up. Subsequently, perhaps as a result of me being a little overzealous about using earplugs as a precautionary measure in both ears during my driving job, the sensitivity has been up for about a week, and there are a handful of new reactive frequencies that are being quite burdensome. Actually, last night after focusing too much on one of 'em, I started feeling a subtle soreness/warmth sensation in my right ear that would come in and out for about a second, repeating like maybe every 20/30 seconds or so, which freaked me out and I just went to lie down and let it subside, which it did. Though that was new and scary, mentally I still am holding up much better than I had with past instances, since these types of circumstances feel like familiar territory... for better or worse! Thanks for asking, and I'm sorry I didn't come back with an update in the past few years.

      You know, after writing that, it did occur to me that perhaps SOME of the sensitivity is due to having the earwax removed from my right ear, because one of the frequencies I began noticing sensitivity toward flared up immediately after I started driving home from my appointment. Then again, perhaps it was a delayed side effect of the olive oil drops I inserted into my right ear the night beforehand (and on many days in the previous week), because mere moments after inserting the drops on Tuesday night, I noticed a new static-y tinnitus tone in that ear, and I can imagine other side effects arising. For now I will allow time to see if these things subside. Wish I could schedule an ENT appointment as soon as possible but it looks like I might have to wait til Monday morning to do so.
       
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    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Ace
      Musical

      Ace Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      July 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud jam session, of course on top of years of performance
      Sorry for bumping this, but a week after the extraction of earwax in my right ear, I must admit the heightened sensitivity in the right ear is bugging me. Does anyone else have experience with this, and how long was your sensitivity heightened following earwax removal?

      I appreciate your time, thanks.

      I don't just blame the earwax extraction here btw. I think it's a combination of the fact that I was overusing high NRR filters in my musician's earplugs in the weeks leading up to the extraction, and also that since a little over a week ago I have been taking a break from work on the road for unrelated reasons, which has limited my daily noise exposure even more. I will be getting back on the road and try to be less reliant on hearing protection so as to desensitize my hearing, as similar strategies have always worked for me in the past with hyperacusis-like symptoms. Last time it took about a month, perhaps a little more, so I guess I'll have to buckle up and get to it.
       
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