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monsoon's avatar

What could be causing my ear to ring whenever I hear a high pitched noise?

Asked by monsoon (2505points) July 23rd, 2008

I’ve considered tinnitus, so unless you can show me alink that describes it as what I’m about to describe, I know, and it doesn’t seem like that is this.

Okay, so for over a year I’ve been getting very tinnitus like symptoms, a constant small lull of a ring, and occasionally a loud piercing ring for a few seconds. Recently, though, I’ve had something happen where I hear a sort of twanging sound in my ear that accompanies every highish pitched noise. So a girl saying “Hi, how are you?” is accompanied by a “twang, twang twa-twang.” But very very slightly.

This morning This happened, but my ear got VERY quiet, and then the twanging became loud in unmistakeable. Before, I sometimes thought I was imagining it, today there is no question.

Any ideas? I need to see a doctor, I think, but My mom is out of town and I need her help with insurance and hospital stuff. She won’t be back until this Saturday.

Also, this has been going on for about… nine hours now. It got better at first, and then sort of just stayed the same. It’s quite unnerving.

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17 Answers

marinelife's avatar

There is more than one possible problem. You really will need to see a doctor, perhaps an ENT specialist.

drhat77's avatar

An ENT, neurologist, or even audiologist would be able to help narrow the problem down. I cannot think of any definitive diagnosis based on your symptoms, but the fact that it is getting worse is most concerning. You should probably see a doctor in the morning and tell them that your insurance will be squared away next week.
If you expereince dizziness, nausea or vomiting, weakness or numbness in half your face or one arm or leg, decrease in your hearing, vision problems, or it just progressively gets worse – shoot just go to the ER. I’m an ER doctor and every once in a while we get a patient with a strange symptom we just can’t explain. If you end up there they’ll probably do some blood work, get you a CAT scan of your head, and everything will probably be normal, which will leave everyone just scratching their head – but at least it won’t be anything urgent.

Bottom line: i don’t think this should wait for your insurance to be squared away. Go see a doctor in the morning.

gailcalled's avatar

The ear is complicated; the smallest bone in the body is the stapes; one of the three bones that conduct sound…and that’s for starters. Do you not have a family doctor where you can pop in tomorrow?

@drhat: Yay! Another doctor in the house. Welcome. Be advised; we all want free medical advice. But we do barter..

drhat77's avatar

and don’t forget to take two aspirin

sndfreQ's avatar

Where’s hearKat?

monsoon's avatar

Yeah, it definitely hasn’t been getting worse (except if you mean over the past year). Today it’s been getting better, Perhaps I will give the hospital a call tomorrow. My mom works there so I should be able to figure out where I should go.

I was looking very carefully for any dizziness or nausea, but there hasn’t been any. Thanks guys.

PupnTaco's avatar

I woke up one morning three years ago with a high-pitched, steady ringing in my ears. That’s happened occasionally in the past so I didn’t think much of it. A couple days later, it was still going 24/7 so I went to my doctor, then to an ENT, then to a hearing specialist. The verdict: irreversible hearing loss (nerve damage/degeneration beyond the eardrum), nothing they can do to fix it. They said I just have to learn to live with it.

And it sucks. Hope yours goes better.

delirium's avatar

we have a resident audiologist(?) don’t we? She is one of the three Calvin and Hobbes avvys but isn’t @squirbel or @Hobbes.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The word ‘Tinnitus’ comes from the Latin word for ‘ringing’ and is the perception of sound in the absence of any corresponding external sound. It is not a disease, it is a symptom so if you have ringing in your ears and there is no external noise by definition you have tinnitus. It is not limited to just the elderly it can effect anyone at any age particularly if you listen to loud music, or use earphones for extended periods of time.

Bottom line go to the Doc if you’re worried about the insurance you could call your mother and explain or speak to the doctors and see if they can sort something out for you.

Trance24's avatar

Well I would definitely go see a Ears, Nose and Throat Doctor as soon as your mom gets back. Until then I had something similar with me but yours sounds more serious. With me it was because of a muscle in my ear tensing up when I herd loud noises. It was because my ears are highly sensitive like that of a dog. Now whether that is your problem I can not tell you. But it is a possibility. So see that doctor soon!

gailcalled's avatar

@Del:( hearkat who is off the radar.) IAC, the first thing a ENT does after looking for physical and visible damage is to have an Audiologist do a complicated hearing test at various frequencies and with various kinds of interferences on both ears. Then the diagnosis comes.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

If you can get in contact with your mom, you could set up the appointment now, and give them the insurance info when you get there. From my experience, generally seeing a specialist takes at least a few weeks from first call to actual appointment.

I have tinnitus, too, (and random pain and garbled hearing from time to time) and I’m also young enough to use my parents’ insurance. I was pretty freaked out when I first realized it, but after I went to the ENT, he told me it was because I had had so many ear infections as a baby that my eardrums were scarred, and “behaved badly”. So in the mean time, try not to be too worried. It’s probably going to be okay.

monsoon's avatar

Yeah, when I woke up this morning, it was gone. Or at least, back to where I ‘m not sure if it’s there or I’m being paranoid. I will definitely try to see a specialist. It would be nice if there’s something I can do to keep it from getting worse.

delirium's avatar

Ahh. Thanks gail. I didn’t know. :)

hearkat's avatar

Geez… I don’t check in for one evening, and there happens to be a question that calls for my expertise!

I am an Audiologist, and the distortion you describe isn’t tinnitus, but the ringing is. My first thought was similar to what Trance24 describes… but typically that is a reflex to loud sounds, not to a high-pitched voice at a normal intensity.

Even if it doesn’t return, I recommend scheduling a full audiological and Otologic (ENT) evaluation. When it does happen, be mindful of any potential triggers like if you might be dehydrated or if your blood pressure or blood sugar might be out of whack from not eating right. Consider whether you were exposed to loud sounds in the day preceding the symptoms. Also make a note of any other symptoms you might be having, such as your ears feeling clogged, dizziness, headaches of anything even slightly out of the ordinary. Also note if you’ve had problems with your ears/hearing before, such as any Ear, Nose & Throat surgeries when you were younger.

Chances are that they won’t find anything, as DrHat said. The human body is an amazing machine, but we all have our glitches. At least you’ll have a baseline for comparison if the symptoms persist or worsen. Feel free to contact me if you would like to discuss this further.

monsoon's avatar

Thanks so much @hearkat. Yeah, it’s gone away now. I’m tempted to just ignore it because of business (that’s “busy-ness”), but I’ll try to get in and see some one soon.

And that’s what I thought about tinnitus. I knew that the ringing was tinnitus, that’s why I never bothered with it, but I didn’t think this was the same thing. And the distortion does happen at louder sounds, but more-so at high pitched sounds, rather, sounds that seem to carry more over other sounds I may hear at the same time.

Anyway, thanks for the response. I can live with funky hearing, I just don’t want it to be something more serious, that’s why I’m gonna go check it out.

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