Sometime in the early 2000’s, I had some ringing in my left ear that lasted a few weeks after attending an outdoor concert. I mentioned it to my primary care physician and she referred me to an ENT. The ENT had the office audiologist conduct a hearing test, you know the kind where you sit in a soundproof booth with headphones on and click a button when you hear a beep. The test showed moderate hearing loss in my left ear and mild hearing loss in my right ear.
Time for a brief tutorial on ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus. It is actually a noise that a person hears that isn’t caused by an external sound around the person. It is a sound that only the person who has it can hear and is sometimes described as a low roaring or high-pitched ringing. Tinnitus is commonly associated with hearing loss. As hearing declines, it’s often replaced by tinnitus. The American Tinnitus Association has great information about tinnitus.
In my case, I hear more high-pitched noises that often sound musical. I can use this to my advantage and just have a song running through my head. I won’t lie, though. It can be very frustrating too.
Back to my history. My ENT also had me undergo a test to make sure that I didn’t have an acoustic neuroma – a non cancerous tumor on the main nerve leading from the inner ear to the brain. It was negative. My hearing loss wasn’t bad enough to warrant hearing aids and I was told to follow-up with my ENT if I thought my hearing got worse.
As I look back to that time, I remember that I was working in an old building, on the top floor and the roof had significant water leaks. It seems like I had a sinus or ear infection every 3 months or so, likely related to the mold in the building. I’ve always wondered what, if any, role that played to my hearing loss.