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I'm a 31 yr. old male. I've had a beeping sound in my right ear for about two years. I've kept this to myself for fear of being labelled psychotic. When it first started I noted that it sounded like morse code. the beeping sound progressively became louder and more tones were audible. The sound is "electronic", like the beeping of a digital watch or the sounds that you would hear when using a bank machine. There are at least 3 different tones that I can isolate at one time, all going at a different rhythm. This used to wake me up at night but the sound has faded over time. I can still hear it if I press the flap of my ear shut. I haven't seen a doctor about it because, as I said I feared the diagnosis of schizophrenia. This is the only oddity I've noticed in terms of perception, and it is only in one ear. Until the other day I have never heard of this exact problem. I considered tinnitus but this seems quite different. I was scanning articles in another neurology forum and read about a young girl with the same thing. She even mentioned the morse code similarity. Reading about this has got me interested again - what the hell is this? I seem to be fine otherwise and just decided that it was a mystery I'd have to live with. Any ideas would be appreciated.
From your description of symptoms, it is quite possible that this is tinnitus. What is tinnitus? Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of a stimulus (IE: noise from outside your head which others also hear). It can manifest as a buzzing, ringing, roaring, whistling, or hissing. It can also involve more complex sounds (IE: electronic, beeping with different tones) that vary from time to time.
The mechanism involved with tinnitus remains obscure but it can accompany nearing all ear disorders (infections, impaction with wax, nerve damage, etc.). Other symptoms may accompany tinnitus such as hearing loss/impairment, loss of balance or pain, however it often exists by itself.
Your concern about being labeled psychotic or schizophrenic has prevented you from following up with a doctor regarding this problem. Outside of this "oddity" you do not relate other symptoms that typically occur with schizophrenia or psychosis. Schizophrenia is an often misunderstood disorder. It is a psychotic disorder that is persistant and results in significant impairment in social and occupational abilities. It is characterized by delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and confusion of thought. Other people are generally aware of a change in the person's functioning which does not seem to be the case with you.
I do not believe that you have schizophrenia based on what you relate. I recommend that you first have a physical evaluation to rule out an ear problem. If the exam and testing are normal and you continue to be distressed about this issue, then it might be helpful to see a psychiatrist. In this event, you can call for an appointment at Henry Ford Behavioral Services 313-874-6680.
This information is provided for general medical education purposes only. Please consult a physician for diagnostic and treatment options pertaining to your specific medical condition.
Keywords: Schizophrenia, tinnitus
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