Hi out there-- I'd really appreciate any help on the bilateral (both sides) ear pain I've been having:
Four months ago, I listened to an audiobook via a wireless, muff-type headset (Sennheisers, good quality) on a Sunday when I was doing miscellaneous chores. I had the volume turned up for perhaps an hour when I was cooking with the exhaust fan on, then another half-hour or so when I was exercising on the treadmill (so I could hear over the background noise). I listened with the volume at regular levels for perhaps another 4 hours that day so I could finish the audiobook (it was a suspense novel and due the next day!). All in all, it was probably 6 but no more than 7 hours of listening that day.
That night, toward the end of the listening, both my ears felt "tired" and a bit sore. It felt like I had to rub them, almost like there was pressure or I'd had something in my ears for awhile and had just taken them out. The discomfort persisted the next few days and got a little better after complete rest from music/TV/radio. But after I listened for only 1/2 hour to some music at low-normal volume perhaps 3 days later, I felt the discomfort again and a bit of achy, almost stabbing pain in both ears. It didn't seem deep inside the ear, almost like I could reach it by rubbing in front of and under the ears.
Since then, this has been happening on/off. What makes it worse is always noise, what I'd consider at "normal" levels: music in stores, TV, radio, regular-loud conversation. It starts to bother me NOT right away, but a little after exposure starts (maybe about 1 hour after), even if I'm no longer around the noise, peaking at several hours after (3-4 hours later) and gradually dwindling if I rest from noise. I've tried Advil, with no clear benefit (once I thought it helped, and other times I didn't).
Complicating this has been the fact that I had a cold at the time of the headphone use, and have had three colds since, with one verified ear infection (which gave me what I felt was a different sort of pain), which cleared up after amoxicillin. I also have seasonal allergies (postnasal drip, rhinitis) and have been taking Claritin, but I feel the allergies are unrelated.
I have been to my general practitioner (family doctor) twice, and my ears looked "normal". I got referred to an ENT, who did a hearing test, which showed my ears were "perfect". He basically told me there seems to be nothing physically wrong with the ears themselves, and seemed to imply I have a chronic pain-type problem in which my brain has just learned to have pain in response to noise. I did some research on that and I think he believed I had hyperacusis, in which people are unusually sensitive (or have pain) in response to normal noise, but I clarified with him that the noise doesn't bother me when I first listen to it, only after awhile, which seemed to get him thinking a little bit but not much. Only after a bit of pushing, he agreed to see me again in 6 weeks if the problem persists "so we could consider other avenues".
Thanks for reading this long post (I didn't want to leave anything that could be important out.) This problem has been so debilitating in terms of affecting my quality of life and work (can't talk long on the phone, no music, radio, TV; wear earplugs a lot). If anyone has any insight into this problem, I'd really appreciate it.
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