Avatar universal

I can hear, but I don't understand?

In the last 4-6 months I have noticed I am having trouble hearing people talk, even when they are sitting across from me. Occasionally I can hear some tones (voices, music, etc) better than normal. Not quite sure how to describe it properly...if someone has a lower voice in general I can barely make out what they are saying, it just sounds like they are mumbling and I know they aren't, whereas someone with a high pitched voice I can hear, for the most part I think. In general though, I feel like I just can't understand what people are saying half the time. If someone speaks to me with my back turned, forget about it. It just sounds like mumbling, or that their words are slurred together. If there are noises in the background from the tv or radio, I have an issue too. Just recently, in the last few days, my ears have become more sensitive to loud noises (horns honking, people laughing really loudly, or even people carrying on conversations and a level a bit higher than normal) they hurt and I'm getting minor headaches. I am very aware of my ears at all times now. People have been asking me to speak up lately, but to me it sounds like I'm speaking loud and clear.

I did ask my GP about this, and she looked in my ears and said my eardrums looked slightly swollen, and prescribed me Flonase, an allergy nose spray and to take Claritin daily, although my allergies have never been so bad as to warrant that. Nothing seems to be helping so far, and it's really starting to hurt me at work as I work in a bar, and if I can't hear my customers orders...

For the record, I'm a 28 year old female, and this has only occurred in the last 6 months. The only other odd incident that comes to mind with my ears is that about a month and half ago, I woke in the middle of the night and there was a clear, slick fluid coming from both ears. Since then occasionally my ears will pop for no reason repeatedly, causing my voice to sound like it's booming in my head, and my ear (it varies although I'm inclined to say my right) will clog up momentarily.
2 Responses
Avatar universal
I have the same issue, along with degenerative hearing loss. Just recently however, I have noticed mine getting worse. I can't tell where a noise is coming from and I have to see peoples lips moving to understand/process what they are saying. I know for a fact that my ears are worse when there is fluid on them. I irritate my husband because I talk so soft, but I try to explain to him that inside my head it is so loud!  

I now have tubes in my ears and they have been a life saver. I seriously could not live like I was living before. The pressure left my ears and I also hear much better.

My Life Savers:

1.  Keep water out of your ears! They get enough fluid on their own, stop putting more in them.  I have to use ear plugs everyday when I shower. You can get them in the pharmacy department--they are little balls of wax that seal your ear.

2.  Keep using a nose spray (the prescription flonaise didn't work as well for me as the OTC Vicks nose spray did) and I also use an OTC decongestant along with a prescription of Allegra.

3.  Find a good ENT and have them do a hearing and pressure test. Don't mess around with the hearing loss. Get to a specialist and make them do the pressure test!  I am a huge advocate of tubes--they have changed my life.  

Good Luck!
Avatar universal
Thank you for sharing your experience. I have been looking everywhere for similar cases in search of answers. After my stroke in my senior year of college, I started having a difficulty 1) making words out of what people were  saying and 2) turning those words into coherent non-presumed meaning. However, this got worse after an MRI a few years later. I suspect it was the heavy metals used for the contrast that made my brain more sensitive by oxidizing the amylase. Everything suddenly became super loud and noisy (like turning up the volume 50%). At first everything was so loud and I could hear everything in my neighbors' apartments. Gradually I guess I just started to tune it out. After about a year I had zoned everything out and, years later, I'm back to worse shape than ever. These days I hear random tones in my head, quite often. It can be any pitch, any duration, anything. (It's different from the ringing you get in your ears after exposure to loud bangs.) It's like my brain is trying to make stuff up. And sometimes it takes me five to ten seconds to process what another person is saying, if there is anything of comparable decibel interference in the audio space. What irks me the most is that it seems like my mind is always scrambling to find words to fit to stuff that doesn't sound like words - but it has to be because it's coming from other people - like a matching game. "Is this what she said, or did she say that? What's the word that's going to come next?" It's extremely frustrating and makes things like talking to my family over the phone extremely frustrating for no reason at all.  Even watching movies is frustrating, but one good way I've found to deal with it is to watch TV instead in languages that I don't understand, subbed in one of the languages I can understand. Since my reading comprehension isn't affected, I can just allow the foreign speech to have a soothing melodic quality. All this is really is sad on a personal level because as a kid, my hearing was very good in range as well as tone depth. And now it's like it's all dim, or becoming lost. And I'm not even 30 either. It might all be gone in fifteen years. If all I can say is that I'm thankful for having had the experience of having had hearing at its finest, then so be it. But it's kind of hard to accept because it brings up thoughts of isolation and loneliness.
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