Two Months in with Some Improvement in My Tinnitus, But...

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Brittany95, Jan 27, 2021.

    1. Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Hi all,

      My name is Brittany and I'm 25 years old. Back on December 1st, 2020, as I went to bed I realized I had a ringing in my right ear. I wasn't too concerned at first as I have had tinnitus that lasts for a minute or so then fades. I went to sleep and when I woke up, it was still there. After dealing with it all day at work, I thought I maybe had a piece of earwax get stuck and bought drops. I used those drops for 4 days and realized nothing changed. There was no exposure to loud noise or anything like that, nor any pain.

      I went to a walk in clinic and was diagnosed with an ear infection. It was strange to both myself and the doctor because I didn't have any real pain (aside from an occasional, mild pain from behind my right ear down my jaw), nor any dizziness/discharge/any other normal sign of infection. Just tinnitus in the one ear and it being really red inside, with the occasional feeling of it being warm and "full". I was given a course of antibiotics and, though it seemed to help tone it down, it was still there.

      Next was an appointment with my primary care doctor who referred me to an ENT. They did a hearing test that showed my hearing is excellent/not diminished at all with the tinnitus. I also didn't have any fluid behind the eardrum if that's relevant. He told me he thought I didn't have an ear infection to begin with, and that simply "It should fade" which, of course, made my already anxiety-ridden self feel worse, hearing "should" rather than "will". And with me already anxious, I completely blanked on asking him just what the hell he thought caused this! That has been my biggest source of stress, I think, is not knowing how the hell this started, what I did to cause it, or how to avoid it in the future should it actually fade completely.

      So here I am, almost two months later, and I will say it has faded, but it's still very much there. There was a period towards the beginning where I couldn't fall asleep (I had already been falling asleep to rain sounds pre-tinnitus) but I seem to past that too, thankfully, and can sleep with the masking noise or some Melatonin/Aleve PM.

      I also noticed that, as I've read with some other posts on here, that I heard a high pitched noise over the normal tinnitus while listening to music. The worst of that seems to have faded, but I'm still cautious about listening to loud music in the car/at my house. Yawning seems to make it worse temporarily as well, which sucks because I feel like I'm always tired and yawning (constant fatigue, woo!).

      I guess my main reason for posting this is I hope someone else can give me some encouragement that this will continue to get better. My biggest fear is that this is the best it's going to get, and I know I should be thankful that it's faded as much as it has (I would say it's reduced by about 50% since it was at its worst), but I'm still incredibly worried. Going to bed is my new favorite part of the day, because that's when I don't hear the noise (which has gone from a true ring to more of a buzz, like a loud fluorescent light). If anyone has any tips on what they've done to help when their tinnitus was related to an ear infection (I think the ENT is wrong and that it WAS one), I would appreciate it. Currently, the only thing I'm doing is taking Aleve (Naproxen) in the morning and at night in case my ear is still inflamed (and I won't do it for much longer. I've just also been taking it due to regular back pain). That's pretty much all I got.

      Sorry for the long read, and thank you to anyone who has some insight for me!
       
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    2. kuromi
      Cheerful

      kuromi Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      16/11/20
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      outer ear infection
      Hey there! I'm so sorry you've had to experience this. I truly understand how awful it is when this situation first arises.

      Your post actually caught my eye because I have the exact same story! I first noticed the ringing in early November 2020 and managed to see a doctor 3 days after onset, where I was diagnosed with an outer ear infection. I was given an anti-bacterial ear spray to use for a week, and after using this medication I noticed a substantial improvement in the ringing and it started to fade progressively over the following weeks. It's been just over two months for me (10 weeks) and I've noticed that whilst it has mostly gone away, it is still present faintly.

      I can assure you that things will get better, as I'm a testament to the fact that actual improvement in this symptom is possible in some cases. I'd definitely try and see if you can get another evaluation at some point, and express your concerns that you may have a residual form of the ear infection still present in your ear.

      I'm sorry I can't be of much help in this regard, though I really feel for you. I'm currently in the process of booking a follow-up with my ENT as he wasn't able to check the inside of my ear due to a wax buildup.

      I'm here to support you if you ever need someone to talk to, best of luck!
       
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    3. Drachen
      Tired

      Drachen Member

      Location:
      United States
      Tinnitus Since:
      December 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Currently unknown; awaiting evaluation
      Hi there, Brittany! Welcome to the forum!

      I'm really sorry to hear you're going through this. This is a very complex, convoluted symptom that is not spoken about enough. Most people, especially those younger like us, are not nearly educated enough in this problem and how it can be a danger if we encounter (or cause) problems with our ears.

      It's no surprise that you received the responses you did from the medical professionals, because frankly, that's what tends to happen with these people. Most of them either don't know or don't care about the condition, and they're more than happy to diagnose you with say an "infection" despite the chances you may not have one at all. Honestly, this sort of thing is contributing to the problem of antibiotics in this country.

      That being said, if you do think it matches up with an infection, then what is commonly advised is the same for any infection: stay hydrated and consider looking into anti-inflammatory foods and supplements. Ear infections can be particularly tricky to clear through entirely. I currently have a friend who had one and is now recovering several weeks later. Their noise has dropped to barely noticeable but still noticeable. Based from what I've read, prognoses for ear infections tend to be promising, largely because tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying cause, and when you fix that underlying cause there's no reason for it to proliferate.

      I would like to say that given you have already made improvements, that you are likely to continue improving in turn. Positive change in the early stages is typically perceived as good in the long term. Unfortunately, nobody can give you an answer with absolute certainty, and that is ultimately one of the cruelest things about this condition. It is nearly impossible to know exactly what will happen in the coming days. With that being said, two months isn't that long in the grand scheme of things, and you aren't really at the point where you should worry about it being chronic.

      I'm a bit hypocritical in saying that, because I encounter the same sort of anxiety as you do on the matter. My onset was in middle December, and I'm still worrying about how much longer I will have to deal with this nuisance.

      The best thing you can do at the moment besides wait and try to keep yourself calm is to protect your ears. You may want to invest in things like earplugs or ear guards when you are going out into loud environments. You had mentioned that you were "cautious about listening to loud music in the car/at my house." Yes, you should be. This specifically is a concern I have with regards to what led to my onset, and this is likely going to be one of the dominating factors for why so many in our generation may experience some form of tinnitus. Music is fine, but you need to keep it at a healthy volume, and you should consider avoiding the use of headphones at least for the next few weeks or months.

      You may also want to consider using Tylenol (Acetaminophen) instead of Advil (Ibuprofen) because NSAIDs are commonly believed to exacerbate the issue. Granted, Acetaminophen isn't great for anti-inflammatory properties, but you are likely better off going for more natural remedies in that respect.

      I hope I was able to provide some sort of help to you here, and hopefully others will chime in with advice in turn. I wish you the best and that a swift recovery comes your way!
       
    4. apple core

      apple core Member

      Location:
      Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      headphones, syringing, or cervical vertebrae issue
      The first doctor after my onset in December said "if it's anything permanent, well, then there's really nothing we can do" which stuck with me for days and definitely made my anxiety worse. Medical professionals have GOT to become more aware of the links between anxiety/depression and noticing your tinnitus. The word "permanent" should absolutely be thrown out when they are seeing a tinnitus patient. I even prefer the word "chronic" because it implies a reoccurring ailment over a long period but not something that is unavoidable all the time.

      Read plenty of the Success Stories here. Learn about the habituation process and know that this isn't an all-or-nothing illness. There will be valleys and peaks, ebbing and flowing, and its going to make you stronger. You have made improvements, you will make more.
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Thank you all for the encouragement and suggestions. I really needed to hear outside views on this and it sounds like it should continue to improve. I wish there was more than just “wait and see”, though, and it’s incredibly frustrating when doctors don’t realize the effect their words can have. Also, how is it 2021 and this isn’t better understood, especially when so many people deal with it?!

      I have been avoiding headphones (I really have not had the chance to wear them other than a couple times at work editing a video, and I kept it quiet). I did test today while driving home listening to music at a “normal” volume (a touch more quiet than how loud it was pre-tinnitus) and then cranking up some AC/DC to see if it made it worse/brought back the high pitch squeal over the music. It did not! So hopefully that is is a good sign.

      I will continue reading the Success Stories as those were what made me want to write this post, so that I can one day post in there as well that’s it’s gone. Silly, I know, especially being only two months in, but it gives me something to look forward to? I wish for you all to be able to write in the Success Stories thread as well! Thank you for responding!
       
    6. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Hi all,

      I've been dealing with tinnitus in my right ear since December 2020. I was told by one doctor it was from a middle ear infection (even though my only symptoms were ringing, occasional mild pain, and warmth) and to take amoxicillin. I did, and while the warmth/fullness went away, the ringing in my ear remained. I went to an ENT and he thought I probably never had an ear infection (no signs of hearing loss either) to begin with and that "it should fade" (super helpful, right?). Well, three months in and it actually has faded to a good degree, which I'm incredibly thankful for, but it still remains. I developed hyperacusis/reactivity as well (because in the beginning I blocked my ears at every noise, and have been doing it less and less), and that seems to be subsiding too.

      Now, in a stupid lapse of judgement, I used a q-tip yesterday morning in my left ear because it felt full and itchy. While it did remove a large amount of wax, I noticed yesterday at work a hissing/ringing in that ear. It's still very, very, faint, and I know I should try and not focus on it. However, I'm worried that if it is ear wax impaction and I just leave it alone, it might cause another ear infection and I'll be back in this same damn boat I've been in for three months.

      I've looked on here about ear syringing/Debrox and all that, I did actually try that with my right ear in the beginning. I just want to know anyone's opinion on if I should just leave this alone and see where it goes (will the wax work its way out on its own if it has been pushed back that far?), or if I should try Debrox/syringing (gently, not like I did before where I kinda syringed water aggressively in my ear. I had never done it before and the directions on the box did not say do it gently, so I had no idea how much pressure to use). Or, do I just book an appointment with an ENT for a manual wax cleaning? I've never had an ear wax problem before and thought I was being safe with the q-tip (ha!).

      Sorry for the long read, and any help is appreciated.

      Brittany
       
    7. ajc

      ajc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2002; spike 2009; worse 2017-18
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud music - noise damage
      It's very simple. NEVER put a Q-tip in your ear EVER again. And do NOT syringe your ears. Only manual cleaning by an ENT is safe.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      @ajc, believe me, I'll never use a q-tip again. I know it's a poor excuse, but I've been using q-tips infrequently for years now and NEVER had a problem. I think it's just cruel timing that it happened right as I was experiencing tinnitus with the other ear. If it's still ringing tomorrow, I'll be booking an appointment with an ENT.
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      So an update...

      Went to walk-in clinic at the pharmacy yesterday thinking I would be doing an ear wax removal in my left ear. Turns out I actually have a DOUBLE ear infection instead! No ear wax problem, the NP just said my ears were so red they were "cooking", and my throat/lymph nodes I guess are swollen too? Now, I have no other symptoms of an ear infection, same as before in December. No earache (occasional pain that lasted a few seconds, maybe), no nausea, no hearing loss, and no drainage (that I can tell). Literally the only symptom is tinnitus and the visible redness.

      She prescribed me a 10-day course of Amoxicillin Clavulanate, so a higher strength than what I was given mid-December, and to also do a saline spray in the nose. She also said allergies are the likely culprit. I do take Claritin every day, and I have noticed my nose is a little more stuffy than normal. We've had a couple of dusty/windy days lately, which might be why the left is acting up now?

      My question is, does this seem to be ETD? Allergy-caused ETD that led to an infection? Should I switch up my allergy medication if Claritin no longer seems to be doing the trick (I've been taking it every day for years)? I saw a recommendation for Nasacort on here and was thinking of giving that a try as well.

      Any insight into this would be appreciated! I've only just started deep-diving into ETD as I didn't consider that a problem before. I only thought it was a random ear infection that was taking forever for the tinnitus it caused to subside.

      Thank you,
      Brittany
       
    10. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Update:

      After visiting my GP on 3/17, she basically told me "finish out the Amoxicillin (I had two days left) and try Flonase." My ears were still a little red, but that was it. Couldn't see any fluid or anything. I think the antibiotics have been making me feel worse (nausea and headaches) but I will say the noise overall has reduced. It is still very much there, but reduced.

      Except, of course, when it comes to sleeping. Oh my god. This is what makes this all worse, I think, is when I go to bed, fall asleep relatively okay, but wake up at 4/4:30/5am and can't fall back asleep, with the tinnitus being louder. But the second I stand up, it's better? Is this a result of residual fluid in the ear, that might be so far back it can't be seen with a normal otoscope? Is there a way to clear this up? Should it clear up on its own now that the infection (hopefully) is taken care of? I asked my GP and she didn't know much about this and suggested the ENT again, but I felt he was completely useless and thought I didn't have an ear infection to begin with back in December.

      Any help/insight/suggestions are appreciated!
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Ear infections are notorious for taking their time to clear up and also the tinnitus. Give it time and leave your ears alone. Please do not be tempted to try any type of treatment other than what your GP and ENT doctor suggests, because the tinnitus could be made worse and become permanent if you're not careful. You may think your ENT doctor isn't of much help but I assure you this is not the case. Doctors prefer to leave the ears alone and let them recover by themselves. If you were experiencing deafness, acute pain in the ears, balance problems then the doctor would investigate further. For now the best treatment is to leave your ears alone and do nothing.

      Use low level sound enrichment at night by placing a sound machine by the bedside. More about this is explained in my posts below, that I suggest you read.

      All the best
      Michael

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    12. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      Hi Michael! Thank you for replying. I'm definitely sticking to what she told me, and won't be doing anything weird to my ears.

      With your research, would you say that my ears should go back to normal since this was ear infection induced? I mean, the infection is gone, so why should the noise remain, right? Or is it more likely I'll always have some hiss? I just have found no real answers on this site because I suspect that people who came on here looking for answers for an ear infection healed up and never came back. I'm just worried I won't be so lucky.
      I think I said that more because of how dismissive he was. "It should fade" is basically all I was told. I let it go for two months until my left ear started buzzing, and found out I had a double ear infection. I only wonder if he had looked longer than a few seconds in my ears if he could have seen it and got me on antibiotics then. The one who discovered my double ear infection last week said it looked like my ears were "cooking", so I can't imagine for how long that was going on and if that caused permanent damage?

      Also, I just want to say thank you for everything you do on this site. I've read what seems like every post that could be linked to my case (and will read through the ones you suggested), and you're always on there helping people and providing insight. Thank you for what you do!
       
    13. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I used to counsel people for a tinnitus organisation but now do this on my own. Some of the people I corresponded with got tinnitus due to an ear infection. It can take three to four months for the infection to clear up and in most cases, the tinnitus goes away so give it time. Try not to use any type of headphones but suggest using low level sound enrichment at night, instead of sleeping in a quiet room.
      I understand how you feel. The bedside manner of some doctors need to improve as they can come across not being very helpful and understanding. Leaving your ears alone and give it time is really the best way.
      Thank you for your kind comments they are much appreciated. I was helped in a similar way many years ago by people at a tinnitus forum and people I contacted by phone. They gave their help voluntarily and I do the same.

      Use low level sound enrichment and give it time for the tinnitus to fade.

      Take care.
      Michael
       
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    14. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      This is very reassuring, thank you! I have been using rain noises playing on my phone to fall asleep to for years now. There is hardly a night where I can fall asleep in silence, and definitely not since this started. I will continue doing this, and won't be using headphones any time soon!

      This weekend was pretty good. Saturday seemed the quietest it's been since December, while Sunday was "normal" buzz levels. This morning it's going pretty good too, so fingers crossed it continues to fade!

      Thank you again,
      Brittany
       
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    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Brittany95
      Tolerant

      Brittany95 Member

      Location:
      Arizona
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Ear Infection
      4 month "anniversary" update:

      I'm happy to say that my tinnitus has gone down considerably! It's still very much there, but it no longer upsets me as much as it did. My sleep is still trash because of it, but it wasn't great to begin with before getting this so that's nothing new.

      I have noticed a few things about it recently. One is that when I turn my head in certain directions, the tone/pitch in my left ear changes. It did this at onset 2 weeks ago, and has been doing it more the last few days. Is this a blood pressure thing? I don't remember my right ear ever doing that, and that one was definitely the "worst" one when it came to the infection/noise level. It's just odd that it changes depending on neck movement.

      Another thing I noticed is about two weeks ago, I was trying to take a nap when my left ear's tone (which has always been kind of a whistle/tea kettle noise, not really a buzz or ring) seemed to just RAMP up in pitch for a minute or so for no reason. However, it didn't stay at that point. It was more like it went so high that I couldn't hear it anymore, like a dog whistle? This happened again yesterday and freaked me out, but ever since then, it seems like the overall tone of the noise has lessened.

      I have tried sleeping on my sides again which seems to be fine, but find when I sleep flatter (I've been propped up a bit on pillows for a while now), it gets louder. However, when I took Benadryl one night and slept flatter, it didn't seem to increase in volume. Could this still be residual fluid in the ears/Eustachian tubes? I know I can't take Benadryl every night (as much as I would love to, that stuff is better than Melatonin!) but could it be linked?

      Anyway, I guess the point of these posts was to better track my own progress (the character limit on profile posts is a killer!) and as an informal reference for anyone else dealing with tinnitus from an ear infection. Still can't believe it's as quiet as it is now and I'm praying it continues to fade into oblivion.
       
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