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Stop the Ringing!

Discussion in 'Diving Medicine' started by Juris Diver, Oct 5, 2002.

  1. Juris Diver

    Juris Diver Angel Fish

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    Hi. I'm wondering if anyone might have a clue as to what could cause a person's ears to ring with a high pitch constantly for (so far) about a month. I think I may have injured myself fresh water diving at about 1500 feet above sea level. I was down only for about 30 minutes lifting some objects when I made a mistake and ended up popping up along with my drums and lift bags from about 30 ffw. As soon as I surfaced, I had a bad headache and felt kinda goofy. My ears have been ringing ever since. I don't think it's inner ear barotrauma because I don't have any vertigo-like symptoms. The only additional piece of info that I can relate is that my ears are now more sensitive to loud noises. Putting the dishes away and talking to some people on the phone is when I notice this symptom the most.

    The constant ringing is really annoying and I hope it is not a permanent condition. Maybe I should have gone to a hyperbaric chamber, but my ego wouldn't let me.

    Any shared experiences or advice/comfort from physicians would be appreciated.

    Thanks.
     
  2. The Iceni

    The Iceni Medical Moderator

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    Hi Juris Diver,

    Sadly it sounds to me as though you may indeed have suffered inner ear barotrauma, whether or not you ruptured the round window or the oval window, on the affected side. Is one side worse than the other?

    As you know the inner ear consists of two parts,

    the labyrinth and semicircular canals - the organ of balance, and

    the cochlea (organ of Corti) the "microphone".

    As these are discrete organs each can be damaged without affecting the other so it is quite possible to suffer the symptoms of tinnitus (which you describe) without vertigo (and visa versa).

    As I am sure you have already surmised, an early ENT opinion is advised.

    I do hope it is not serious and can be fixed.
     
  3. Juris Diver

    Juris Diver Angel Fish

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    Hi Doc. It appears that my right ear rings a bit louder than the left. At times, I can sense a clicking-like sound in my right ear. Any idea what that may be? Also, how would this type of injury be "fixed?"

    Thanks.
     
  4. The Iceni

    The Iceni Medical Moderator

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    By consulting an ENT surgeon, obtaining an accurate diagnosis and undergoing any necessary operation.

    In addition I would suggest you would be wise not to dive until you do.

    :doctor:
     
  5. John Reinertson

    John Reinertson Barracuda

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    Dr Thomas is correct. Ringing is a common symptom of injury to the cochlea, which has the job of perceiving sound and translating it to the brain.

    The clicking sound, however, is more typical for middle ear or external ear canal problems.

    The external ear canal and portions of the middle ear can be seen on simple examination. (By looking through the normally translucent eardrum (or tympanic membrane, as my old professors insisted I call it)).
    The question of squeeze, (which is a middle ear problem), versus inner ear damage, (which is a question of nerve injury in the cochlea), can often be sorted out with relatively simple exam maneuvers.

    Hopefully the clicking is a clue and this is simply moderate squeeze, which can be expected to improve/resolve.

    It is important to know which is the problem, as they require different approaches to prevention and have different consequences.

    I hope this is a minor problem, but of course I can't tell without a look and possibly some simple testing.

    Good luck.
    Dive safely;

    John
     
  6. The Iceni

    The Iceni Medical Moderator

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    Yes, it was remiss of me not to discuss the TM. I had assumed injuries to the middle ear would have been top on the list of differential diagnosies but emphasised the possibility of inner ear problems you had dismisssed, as I did not want you leave a potentially serious problem undiagnosed.
     
  7. o2 clean

    o2 clean Barracuda

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    I personally don't have problems with my ears whatsoever during dives, but when I hiccup... my right ear clicks per hiccup. It's sort of like a purrrrring feeling. Do any of you have an idea as to what it might be?

    Other than that, my ears (hearing) are fine. :ears:
     

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