Doctor, doctor: I'm hearing strange sounds

I have tinnitus, which I can live with, but about twice a week I also have periods in which my hearing is as if I am in an echo chamber with distorted sound. The symptoms last a day or so, and go as quickly as they come. My blood pressure is normal. Might it be caused by catarrh in the ear?
It may be caused by mucus in the Eustachian tube that connects the back of the throat with the inner surface of the eardrum. Ask your doctor to check it. If this is the case, a nasal spray may be all that you need. However, your symptoms may also be an unusual sign of Meniere's disease, a common cause of tinnitus that is also associated with distortions of hearing, deafness and balance problems. It is the result of raised pressure inside the inner ear, and will need different investigations and treatment, so please arrange for a thorough hearing and balance check.

My mother developed breast cancer when she was 50 and died from it 10 years later. I'm 38 and I have had fibrous thickening of both breasts, but no malignancies. Should I have breast screening?
If your mother is the only person in the family who has had breast cancer, then your risk of developing it is very little different from that of other women who have no family history of the disease. However, if you are worried, why not ask your doctor for an examination, and for his or her opinion on whether or not you should visit your local breast centre? You have two reasons for doing so – the first, to reassure yourself that your breasts are normal and that there is no detectable cancer; the second, to put your mind at rest. Worrying about cancer can sometimes be as dangerous to your health as the cancer itself. I can't gauge from your letter whether your fear is a minor one with which you are coping well, or whether it is something that is constantly nagging at you. In either case, it is important to talk to your doctor about it.

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