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Hi there everyone

Well first of I must say it's reasonably nice to find a forum on Tinnitus and Hyperacusis that is both reassuring and informative. It's nice that some of the members who are much better are here to help out newbies.

Anyway I'll try and keep this relatively short!

Ever since I was a kid I've been sensitive to loud sound, but not all loud sound, as I used to play drums in bands and stuff. I was always careful with my instruments, as my mum bought me earplugs when they bought me my first drum kit and drilled in the notion of "not damaging your ears" into me and my brother in terms of using iPods. I know I was always sensitive because I held my ears all the way through an imax film when I was 10 or so once, and would tell my dad to turn his music down and such.

Anyway throughout my teenage years, I have had quite a strong awareness of my ears. I've always been very careful not to damage them. A couple of incidents drew my attention to my hearing. I got slapped on the ears once when I was 15 (by some punk). Fortunately the slight ringing and dizziness passed by the following morning, and the trip to the doctors confirmed my ears were fine. Phew. In summer 2011 I started to get a slight throbbing in my left ear after a speaker incident (not loud enough to damage, just startled) which bugged me throughout the summer. The doc noticed some fluid, gave me a nose balloon, and the problem seemed to sort itself out. Throughout summer 2012 I noticed a very very slight ringing when listening to my iPod as quietly as possible (I liked to do that at night in bed), but nothing major.

Anyway fast forward to summer 2013, I'd just finished the most stressful few months of my life (panic attacks, anxiety, the lot) and I noticed a slight ringing in my left, once again very very slight. That started to spread to the other ear, but what cemented it was a loud studio session at a fellow producers house. I'm convinced the session wasn't loud enough to be damaging (as I said I have always been sensitive, and this summer I found myself being more sensitive), but I was aware of my tinnitus and was stressed about making it worse, but wanted to finish the track. Anyway I finished the session, my ears were fine. It was only way later in bed I was thinking about it and thought I'd made things worse (again, probably that psychological element). 

So that was 1st August 2013, I had a bunch of hearing tests which all came up fine so that put my mind at ease. I would describe that case as mild hyperacusis. I started university in October and went to many clubs (with earplugs of course) and my life wasn't all that affected. I tended to avoid some louder areas where I felt I couldn't get away with earplugs (pre-drinks, loud bars, that sort of thing). However whilst the hyperacusis was more me being scared to damage my ears "further" (so I think it was more phono phobia) I began to get obsessed about damaging my ears, like a lot of people do with these ailments. I was diagnosed with TMD at some point too. Anyway I continued to go out, do normal stuff but sometimes wearing my musicians earplugs.

Anyway back in May I noticed that some sounds wear getting distorted, particularly higher stuff like my acoustic guitar and some music, another sounds too. Like certain frequencies in songs or everyday sounds would trigger other tones and artefacts on top. Anyway THIS is what freaked me out. I saw two ENTs that same week. Audiograms were fine, the second one prescribed me some steroids just in case. Anyway that distortion as it were tended to fluctuate, so I kept an eye on it. I got quite down about it for a while but by the time summer came around I was noticing it less so I enjoyed myself, made some more music.etc (I'm a producer and DJ, albeit not quite professional but hoping to be one day).

Anyway throughout the summer, with little to do (I'm on summer break) I followed my condition. My jaw became a primary feature as it was giving me a lot of pain some days and seemed to correlate with my tinnitus and distortion. I saw a dentist who gave me a mouth guard and some exercises but I used them halfheartedly as I wanted to get it checked out properly. I went to a maxillofacial surgeon who diagnosed me with mild TMD. I can modulate my tinnitus with jaw clenching, especially when eating food sometimes, and neck movements sometimes.

Anyway my most recent concern is that last Monday I noticed my distortion being much more apparent, and kind of more difficult to describe. Everything now had a tinny quality to it. On Wednesday I came down very suddenly with a cold in the evening after spending the day in London. The distortion was pretty bad most of thursday and Friday. Friday evening I managed to get a last minute doctors appointment because I figured it would be worth it (my ears felt pretty congested). She said both ears looked a little inflamed/infected, especially the right, and there was some fluid behind both. She gave me a course of antibiotics.

So here I am now. I'm trying not to stress too much because I remember what I was like when the distortion first came around, however this new distortion is affecting a lot, if not all sounds. However some music sounds relatively ok, not perfect, but not devastating fortunately.

My main concern is the ear infection. As I said I noticed the distortion begin to pick up Monday, maybe tuesday night. Wednesday night I fell pretty ill quite quickly, having felt fine most of the day. However my illness has been pretty akin to a cold, and so I don't think it's a flu. I'm sure I'd feel much worse.

Anyway I'm very worried about this slight infection. It's not too bad, the hyperacusis and awareness of my ears (perhaps TTTS) gives me similar pain normally. My ears keep getting clogged, but I'm using lots of decongestant foods like chilli and such plus drainage massages which help, and of course taking my antibiotics. Since last summer, getting an ear infection has been one of my worst nightmares, as I feared the worse, and indeed I have a mild one now, but not too much pain, more clogged and much more distortion.

I really hope the increased distortion is because of the fluid/infection, and will subside, but I'm scared. I hope my infection is actually bacterial and therefore my antibiotics will hopefully do the trick. I read somewhere that whilst colds are caused by a virus, ear infections are usually a secondary bacterial infection. I heard that fortunately, inner ear complications are quite rare and usually arise from untreated infections or other factors that I don't have. The doctor said it was near the eardrum, and her otoscope hurt when near the eardrum so hopefully its purely middle ear and around the eardrum.

I just need some hope that's all. Once this ear infection clears up, I have a referral to Jackie Sheldrake at the London Hyperacusis and Tinnitus centre. I hope then I can make some serious headway, and that hopefully I can reduce my sensitivity to what I would consider normal (I'm willing to accept I may always be slightly more sensitive than others, alas I always have been) and to get the tinnitus in the background (which it has been before).

I guess just the major concern is the distortion, especially now that it's increased with this mild ear infection. I just really hope it hasn't screwed me over. I'm trying to reassure myself by remembering I've hit it with antibiotics quickly, and most ear infections are from antibiotics, and that I'm doing all I can to relieve congestion, eat healthily, get enough sleep.etc. But I'm just worried, as it seems like this infection has changed my distortion, and caused a bit of a sensitivity and tinnitus upset. Any tips or advice or words of wisdom/hope?

I appreciate everyone who takes the time to post on here. I also wish the best of luck to anyone who comes down with this condition!


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