Anxiety and disbelief over sudden hearing loss and tinnitus

Posted by chuckm @chuckm, Sun, Jun 2 1:36pm

About 20 years ago I developed very mild tinnitus. I habituated to it and rarely noticed it except in a quiet room. I was careful to protect my hearing so it never worsened. On May 9 this year I went to see my dentist to start the process of getting a crown on a molar. As soon as he began working with this drill. to remove the old tooth I experienced a very loud painful screeching noise in both ears. I stopped him and told him what was happening. I don't recall what he said but, stupidly, I allowed him to continue working despite the painful noise. I had to stop him several times because it was unbearable. I remember gripping my belt as he worked. At one point he offered me little rolls of cotton to put in my ears but that didn't help. It wasn't the noise coming into my ears externally I was hearing but noise from vibration being carried through my skull to my ears. It was so intensely loud I can't even explain. It sounded like the noise was coming from inside my ears. I don't know how long this went on. Ten minutes or so I guess. Why I allowed the dentist to continue is something I will never understand. Immediately after he was done I had extremely loud tinnitus. Within a couple of days I was having throbbing pain in both ears. I went to see my PCP who prescribed a steroid pack. About a week later I saw an ENT where I did a hearing test showing major loss of hearing in the high frequencies. The ENT continued the Prednisone for another week. I now have very noticeable hearing loss. It's like there's a "dead zone" in my hearing. I am having difficulty understanding what people say on the phone, on TV and even in person. Voices sound flat. If there's any background noise whatsoever it makes it even harder to understand. I've noticed many things just don't sound the same. At night the loss is very noticeable. There are environmental sounds from around the house and from outside I either barely hear now or don't hear at all, unimportant sounds that I used to just take for granted and ignore. Now it bothers me that I'm not hearing them. I heard a slow police siren in the distance a couple of nights ago. When the siren reached the highest pitch the sound disappeared completely and then I could hear it again as it was falling. The tinnitus is very loud. I'm having anxiety through the roof, difficulty concentrating, difficulty sleeping. I found a support forum for tinnitus where I learned about "tinnitus distress", of which I have every symptom. So at least I have a name for it, but in that forum they are focused more on tinnitus than on hearing loss. While the tinnitus is driving me crazy I am actually even more upset about losing my hearing. Before this happened I could very clearly. I did not have difficulty understanding people talking. It's just hard to believe and accept I lost so much hearing so quickly because of dental work. This didn't have to happen. I'm more angry at myself than at the dentist because I could have and should have stopped the whole thing. Why I allowed the dentist to continue I will never understand. I have to see a mental health professional because I'm not functioning very well. My life has kind of ground to a halt. All the normal problems I was focused on before have kind of flown out the window. I'm still able to work, but concentrating is very difficult. Sorry for the long post. I just wonder if this has happened to anyone else? The whole thing is unbelievable.

Liked by joangela

I am sorry this happened to you in this fashion. If the dentist noticed you were having pain, he should have stopped doing what he was doing. Obviously, the procedure was not correctly done or there was a direct association between the tooth and your ear. My thoughts are that you should see an audiologist and have a hearing test to see where you hearing loss is located; and to describe to her/him what type of tinnitus you are having. Stay on the steroid as prescribed to decrease the inflammatory response. They may have a care plan to help you with the tinnitus and hearing loss going forward.

Liked by chuckm

REPLY

This sounds like a horrible experience, i'm guessing that you might have had the same reaction, in the same time frame if you had been exposed to extremely loud sound at a rock concert or in combat or even trap shooting. Something was ready to pop. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the two most frequently diagnosed disabilities in veterans returning from combat zones. Sudden hearing loss has been experienced in other situations too. It happened to a friend of mine during a long distance flight. I strongly recommend that you connect with HLAA (The Hearing Loss Assn. of America). It's a terrific support group full of people with a variety of hearing loss experiences. It helps to be able to talk with others who understand what you're experiencing. Glad you are reaching out here in this discussion group. I wish you well.

Liked by chuckm

REPLY
@nurseheadakes

I am sorry this happened to you in this fashion. If the dentist noticed you were having pain, he should have stopped doing what he was doing. Obviously, the procedure was not correctly done or there was a direct association between the tooth and your ear. My thoughts are that you should see an audiologist and have a hearing test to see where you hearing loss is located; and to describe to her/him what type of tinnitus you are having. Stay on the steroid as prescribed to decrease the inflammatory response. They may have a care plan to help you with the tinnitus and hearing loss going forward.

Jump to this post

Thank you for replying. I have a follow-up appointment with the ENT next week. Today was the last day of the Prednisone. I think it helped with the pain, but I don't think it did anything for the tinnitus or hearing loss. As for the hearing test, I'm attaching the results of the test the audiologist did when I went to see the ENT. Keep in mind I had no problems hearing clearly and only mild tinnitus before this incident so I know the vast majority of this loss is a direct result of what happened. I have no way of proving that but I know it's true.

Left ear

right ear

REPLY
@julieo4

This sounds like a horrible experience, i'm guessing that you might have had the same reaction, in the same time frame if you had been exposed to extremely loud sound at a rock concert or in combat or even trap shooting. Something was ready to pop. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the two most frequently diagnosed disabilities in veterans returning from combat zones. Sudden hearing loss has been experienced in other situations too. It happened to a friend of mine during a long distance flight. I strongly recommend that you connect with HLAA (The Hearing Loss Assn. of America). It's a terrific support group full of people with a variety of hearing loss experiences. It helps to be able to talk with others who understand what you're experiencing. Glad you are reaching out here in this discussion group. I wish you well.

Jump to this post

Julie, thank you for replying and letting me know about HLAA. I have to say, though, it's a little upsetting to me that you think "something was ready to pop". I guess I am unable to convey how painfully loud and "violent" the noise (screeching really) was. I mean, if I'd been shot with a gun and showed you a photo of the damage I don't think you would say "something was ready to pop". I was hearing perfectly clearly before this. That noise was so loud I really don't think it would have mattered who this happened to or the condition of their hearing. It would have done terrible damage. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't know. I guess it's hard for anyone who hasn't experienced what I experienced it to believe it's possible. It's just so far out of what I would have imagined possible I'm not sure I would have believed it myself if someone told me this happened to them. I've had crown work done before, by a different dentist, and never experienced any noise in my ears. I mean, obviously when a dentist works on you if you have normal hearing you're going to hear what going on, but normally most of what you hear is from sound waves coming into your ears from the outside. In this instance it wasn't the sound coming through the air but noise/vibrations being transmitted to my ears through my skull. This was noise on a level I just can't describe. It's like it was inside my head. Anyway I'm an idiot for letting it happen. I don't know what happened to my thinking and judgment while it was happening.

REPLY

chuckm, I sincerely apologize for sounding flip with the 'ready to pop' statement. I did not mean to trivialize your experience. It's very unusual for someone to have such an experience due to dental work. Regardless, it sounds awful. You shouldn't blame yourself for this happening. It would be totally abnormal to insist a dentist stop in the middle of a procedure. Wouldn't it? You are welcome for the information about HLAA. I can honestly say this organization gave me back my life after hearing loss 'stole' it. I hope you live in a state where there are active HLAA chapters. Lots of information at http://www.hearingloss.org

Hang in there!

REPLY

I’d probably have responded the same way to the procedure. We trust professionals. Now that I know something like this is possible I have more information and hopefully I’d just say let’s do this differently, what are my options even if it meant pulling the tooth. I’m sorry you are going through this. There are hearing aids that retrain your brain to cancel out the Titinus. I just had an noisy isolating experience at a restaurant that just got to me more than usual last night. I get so upset when I hear of anyone struggling. 😢

Liked by chuckm

REPLY

Years ago I had a sudden hearing loss in one ear. My ENT sent me for some sort of brain-wave type test that I believe checks the auditory nerve and rules out any sort of tumor. He also took it a step farther with an MRI. The tests found nothing, and now years later both ears are almost at the same level of hearing loss. From how you describe this I would recommend more testing, doesn’t sound like they checked a lot, but I know these doctors don’t like to be told what to do. I’ve been a member of HLAA for quite some time. They are a wonderful organization and might be able to direct you to someone who can help or have members who may have a similar problem. I hope you find some relief soon.

Liked by chuckm

REPLY

Hearing loss is so terrible, and so sorry you lost it like this. Have the doctor's been able to tell you why this happened? Also, I am confused as to why the doctor's were giving you a steroid pack. Did they think there was inflammation?

Liked by chuckm

REPLY
@joangela

Hearing loss is so terrible, and so sorry you lost it like this. Have the doctor's been able to tell you why this happened? Also, I am confused as to why the doctor's were giving you a steroid pack. Did they think there was inflammation?

Jump to this post

@joangela "Have the doctor's been able to tell you why this happened?"

I assume you're asking if one of the doctors was able to tell me why the noise happened. The answer is no. As for the steroid pack, I was having throbbing and burning pain in my ears, so I think, yes, they thought there was inflammation. The steroid did help with the pain, but didn't alleviate the tinnitus or hearing loss. Not as far as I could tell.

Liked by joangela, chuckm

REPLY

I never heard of SSHL until a month ago at our HLAA. Word needs to get out that this happens and can be treated.
“Steroids are the treatment for SSHL. Sudden sensorineural (“inner ear”) hearing loss (SSHL), commonly known as sudden deafness, is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing either all at once or over a few days. In 2011, a clinical trial supported by the NIDCD showed that intratympanic (through the eardrum) injection of steroids was as effective as oral steroids. After this study, doctors started prescribing direct intratympanic injection of steroids into the middle ear; the medication then flows into the inner ear.“
https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/sudden-deafness#1

REPLY
@judysmayo

I never heard of SSHL until a month ago at our HLAA. Word needs to get out that this happens and can be treated.
“Steroids are the treatment for SSHL. Sudden sensorineural (“inner ear”) hearing loss (SSHL), commonly known as sudden deafness, is an unexplained, rapid loss of hearing either all at once or over a few days. In 2011, a clinical trial supported by the NIDCD showed that intratympanic (through the eardrum) injection of steroids was as effective as oral steroids. After this study, doctors started prescribing direct intratympanic injection of steroids into the middle ear; the medication then flows into the inner ear.“
https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/sudden-deafness#1

Jump to this post

@judysmayo I think sudden hearing loss is a great one for a Chapter meeting as many people don't know what to do if it occurs. I learned about sudden hearing loss 2 years ago. It comes in several forms. I was at the convention in Salt Lake City and got an urgent text from my wife at home in PA to call her ASAP. She woke up friday morning and couldn't hear in one ear. She previously had perfect health and hearing (she could hear anything I whispered under my breath from the other room!). Fortunately I was at the right place as I had someone from HLAA track down a nationally known audiologist to talk to me. He said with sudden hearing loss the first thing to do is immediately get to an ENT or emergency room. I called my ENT back home and he agreed to see her. Put her on steroids and something else right away and had her get an MRI. It turned out to be an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor on the hearing nerve. By getting her on steroids immediately, the inflammation went down and within a week most of her hearing came back. And the neuroma was small enough that they could just watch it every six months since neuroma's are slow growing. Two years in and she is doing well. Next MRI this summer.

REPLY

I just want to say I am very sorry for your hearing loss and increased tinnitus. Is it possible the hearing loss is conductive and may reverse? I know it is easier said than done, but stress and tinnitus go hand in hand. Anything you can do to reduce your stress level, be it speak to a therapist, be in nature, meditate,… can possibly help with the tinnitus, and hopefully, your overall well being.

Liked by chuckm

REPLY
@wassy2019

I just want to say I am very sorry for your hearing loss and increased tinnitus. Is it possible the hearing loss is conductive and may reverse? I know it is easier said than done, but stress and tinnitus go hand in hand. Anything you can do to reduce your stress level, be it speak to a therapist, be in nature, meditate,… can possibly help with the tinnitus, and hopefully, your overall well being.

Jump to this post

"Is it possible the hearing loss is conductive and may reverse?"

I don't know what conductive means. As far as I know – I mean based on what little I know about hearing trauma – it's the hair cells in the cochlea that get damaged, and once they're damaged, that's it. They don't regenerate. At least at this point there is no treatment I know of. Maybe someday.

REPLY
@mikepa

@judysmayo I think sudden hearing loss is a great one for a Chapter meeting as many people don't know what to do if it occurs. I learned about sudden hearing loss 2 years ago. It comes in several forms. I was at the convention in Salt Lake City and got an urgent text from my wife at home in PA to call her ASAP. She woke up friday morning and couldn't hear in one ear. She previously had perfect health and hearing (she could hear anything I whispered under my breath from the other room!). Fortunately I was at the right place as I had someone from HLAA track down a nationally known audiologist to talk to me. He said with sudden hearing loss the first thing to do is immediately get to an ENT or emergency room. I called my ENT back home and he agreed to see her. Put her on steroids and something else right away and had her get an MRI. It turned out to be an acoustic neuroma, a benign tumor on the hearing nerve. By getting her on steroids immediately, the inflammation went down and within a week most of her hearing came back. And the neuroma was small enough that they could just watch it every six months since neuroma's are slow growing. Two years in and she is doing well. Next MRI this summer.

Jump to this post

@mikepa
Wow Mike that’s a terrific story! I’m glad your wife is doing good. I Want to put something about SSHL now on our website.

REPLY

Conductive Hearing loss means that there’s something wrong with your eardrums or middle ear not the cochlea or nerve. Although you can have both at the same time. That’s what I have in my left ear.

REPLY
Please login or register to post a reply.