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I've been suffering from tinnitus for the last 2 months, and of varying intensities. It got cured after a couple of weeks of steam inhalation at first but then came back a week later. Both the times when the tinnitus started, I had been exposed to a nearby horn (some 15-20 hours back, in both cases). I went to the doctor and it was confirmed that it was because of mucous accumulated in eustatian tube due to wheezing that I suffered from.
However, one thing that my doctors had neglected all through the months was my claim that the office alarm system is causing me trouble and spiking up the tinnitus whenever it tries to settle down. I sent a audio sample of the alarm a week ago, and they were quite baffled. For anyone wondering, please search in youtube for 4000Hz and you might find some samples. From fletcher munson curves, I can see that it sits right at the peak of our hearing. Please play it at a very low volume and from a source far away form your ears. Now assume the same thing much much louder. It's a ceiling alarm by bosch, and I suspect it to be a fire alarm but they started using it for other purposes. I'm not sure about the exact loudness, but looking at the manuals and my personal experience, I assume it to be 95db. I tried my best to stay away from it, but its there in so many places that it's hard to escape, and they were testing it in newer and newer places.
It goes off atleast 10 times a day in every floor. They use it to signal an open door, and the auto-latch is improper. Also it is unavoidable in times when a large crowd comes and goes (eg, entrance and dining area) and it goes off there as well. So in the last 2 months, I must have heard it, at a distance for some 200-500 times, and it must have went right above my head for some 10-15 times, each of the close encounters being from 10 seconds to some 40 seconds in length and the distant encounters being from 5 seconds (very rare) to often being 2-5 entire (much more common in occurence) minutes in length. It is very traumatic and once I have a close encounter, the ringing in my ears/brains gets very intense and I lose 1-2 entire days of sleep. The ringing varies from an intense high frequency sine sweep to a bell ringing to an aeroplane flying sound (the best I could describe).
During these 2 months I've tried using earplugs, then went to use some earmuffs (a cheap 3M, mostly a knock off), and while they helped a little, they still couldn't save me from, especially a close impact. I stopped using earplugs and went to the over ear because the earplugs were causing a little bit of soreness in the ear skin.
For the past 2 weeks (before the doctors knew the exact condition of alarm sound) I had been taking tablets to drain away the mucous fluid and I was able to feel myself recovering until this alarm went off right above my head again, the tinnitus spiked very high and I lost 3 days of sleep. Now I have been in rest for 4 days and I can feel myself recovered a lot. However there are some questions I am quite confused about.
The audiogram reports, taken two weeks ago were quite good. 15db at 500 hz, a very minor notch at 4khz and then, for my right ear the high frequency hearing is well and comes back to 20db. But for my left ear it slopes down to 30db. Doctor told me it is temporary shift possibly due to nerve damage and should recover back, and if it doesn't in 4 weeks he told I might want to take an MRI. Is the duration of my exposure enough to cause me permanent damage? One thing though, is during all these times, I never experienced any physical pain or bleeding in the ears. Once in a while had some scratchy feeling in the inner ear when I was recovering, and also once in a while I also felt like something pushing my eardrum (hard to describe the feeling) for a small moment.
Another thing is that a till a week ago, even a relatively small amplitude of sudden sound like a plastic glass falling can cause quite a bit of trauma in my brain, not to mention the horns I have to go through. But now, a week away from office, I am not feeling that trauma (it gradually reduced and now I'm okay with horn sounds). Also during those periods, (and to a small extent even now) I felt at the side of the ear that got the impact, my nose would get blocked a bit and I would be able to feel air flowing throught he other nose. And for two months, it was hard to distinguish sounds (frequency resolution), but now it's back to almost normal.
I also have to mention that I am from India, and I have been living in a relatively dynamic environment. I am in near the roadside and I am used to hearing horn and vehicle sounds everyday and at night its quiet enough and I can hear murmur insects in the grasses nearby.
Also to mention I had been using headphones/earphones quite often (but didn't use in the last 4 months)... but I always used to listen at very very very quiet volumes - something less than general conversation volume and only in a very quiet environment. With my in ear earphones (rated at some 20db attenuation at the mid frequencies and 30db at high frequencies), at the volume I listened to them, I can hear my ceiling fan sound (and just tried to enjoy the disturbance).
During the last 2 months, especially after the impact of a loud sound I felt that my hearing dynamic range was reduced, was not able to feel the low frequencies properly (like if I'm in a car I don't feel myself the lower rumbles). Earlier I used to be able to feel a bus some 100-200 metres away easily from inside my house just by a slight rumbly feeling/sound. Now it's almost back to normal. Not sure how it compares to how I had been 3 months ago, but compared to, how I had been for the last 2 months.. leagues better. I am feeling much much better and almost normal, except for two things..
1. There is a mild ringing,, mostly in my left ear, don't hear it much often. But it does spike a little once in a while then fades away. Quite noticeable when I try to sleep. But it does swing a bit often to the head, to the right and back.. also the distance changes from feeling on my ear to outside my head).
2. I feel much more relived about the fluid congestion, but its still there and doctor told it'll take a while to drain.
3. And the most important.. I am able to hear almost everything very well, no issues with conversation. And can hear birds, the transients and decay very well. Except during nights, those insects in the grass with very small murmurs. I can hear it only in my right ear but not in my left ear. I've tried changing my orientations and stuff, and can confirm this. Have to try it again tomorrow. If I get a little closer I can hear in both, albeit ever so slightly muffled in my left. Is this permanent, or will I be able to get my hearing back? What are the chances.
On a side note, I also find my office extremely (yes I really mean extremely) overilluminated. And I'll restrain it in another post. I've got a power or 0.5 in my eyes (from being perfectly fine 3 months ago) when I checked a couple of weeks ago. and they told I can bring it back by proper exercise because it was caused by transient strain. I'll go to the eye doctor today and after the results I'll post it in another subthread.
Another doubt I have is, by seeing the fletcher munson curves (and my hearing audiogram), is 4Khz (and the frequencies surrounding it) more dangerous than other frequencies at the same volume.
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