Originally Posted by bodackd
About a year ago I had some strange hearing problems. When I or someone else would talk, everything was distorted. It sounded like a robot or like when twins say the same thing at the same time. Also audio is all out of tune and strange sounding. There is a fullness in my head but not like sinus or swimmers ear. It does not feel like pressure, just stuffy.
I have been searching all over the interent for similar symptoms and can't find anything.
I finally found a lot of extremely interesting stuff on this forum - and I took time to read a lot of other people's posts on their uncannily similar problems the past two nights. I've only now just got round to posting up for the first time after registering some three days ago here. It's a shame that there isn't a similar forum for UK patients who may well also encounter similar hearing problems over time. I have already tried in vain to get diagnoses from various doctors, ENT and ear specialists over the years but after every test and experiment and treatment under the sun nothing was conclusive. So the frustration one carries around with them every time the problem recurs as and when is immense I can tell you.
Believe it or not I've been trawling the internet for the last year or so trying to see if anything matched the symptoms I've been suffering on and off (in some cases for months at a time non stop) for the past TEN YEARS!
Out of those ten years, there were only TWO years where the symptoms (which invariably always affected the same ear - my right one) did not come back - that was 1996 and 2000. The worst years were 1995 and 1998, where the symptoms lasted up to FIVE MONTHS continuously at one stretch in places, and only a couple of weeks respite before recurring. In fact I have meticulously DOCUMENTED every single week of the problem from when I first had it in early 1995 to the first time it cleared for a very considerable length of time - that was in early 1999. I have a file on this where I have plotted every day of the disorder via graph diagrams which show the distortion at varying levels from 0 (zero) to 5 (full distortion). I have even shown this to all the specialists and doctors at the ENTs I have visited during my various consultations...and yet they still could not get near to making any proper diagnosis of this strange phenomenon.
The previous five years (with the exception of 2000) were limited to only about a month in total per year - but once again this has been increasing exponentially and the past year it has revisited me on no less than three occasions spread over several months, whilst this year since January I've had SIX short-ish new outbreaks, of which the most current is still afflicting me right now as I type - having lasted a worrying TWO WEEKS without respite.
As it stands I have not had what I call a "clean" month this year - that is one full month where the problem has not returned. March was the closest - a mere 22 days. The latest three bouts all came just before Easter and - curiously - now seem to occur in a specific pattern where each bout is double the length of the previous one - thus the first time it re-occurred it lasted four days, then the next bout was eight, then the next was over two weeks going on to three.....
The symptoms I have are the same - characterised - or rather DOMINATED - by distorted hearing - where people's voices- especially children's and women's (i.e. of a higher pitch) come across split into three or four distinct tones - like synthesised voices or robots. This I've noticed is more or less the same as many people here have described. It is extremely unpleasant to have to endure this. So I try hard to avoid situations where I'm surrounded by people like never venturing out in public. But when you're working and have to travel about to get from A to B this cannot be prevented - thus the ordeal is made all the worse as you can imagine. Music likewise is distorted - in fact my entire appreciation of sounds from the afflicted ear suffers terribly.
However, the hearing problem is never just the same at any one fixed period - as I mentioned briefly earlier it develops in several noticeable stages - each one a peg further up the ladder of distortion and unpleasantness. I have given it six stages from 0 (zero - no distortion) to +5 (maximum distortion). I get all the usual accompanying things like pressure build up (feeling of blocked ears and sinueses), ringing, rumbling, whining, roaring noises - sometimes it's almost like a throbbing generator strapped in your ear making the noise. When all this is in place it's level +5. Level +1 to +2 is simply distorted voices (pitch-altered) and slight pressure sensations. Level +3 is with a more distinct rumbling as well as the distorted voices. Level +4 is that again but with twice the intensity - with the rumbling becoming a more penetrating roaring/whining that fills the head, whilst level +5 is just unpleasant and uncomfortable (even accompanied by bouts of dizziness at times). One way of telling how bad my ear is is by putting the phone receiver to each ear and listening to the dialling tone: the more distorted my affected ear, the lower in pitch the continuous tone becomes. The more the ear problem gets better and clears again, the more the tone reverts to the same pitch as the good unaffected ear. At the worst stage of distortion - when it's accompanied by the loud whining/roaring and blocked/pressure sensations (and mild dizziness), the dialling tone pitch becomes rasping and almost atonal and robotic (as do human voices by this point - not just simply distorted into three pitches, but totally tuneless, complete with echoing and refraction of sound in the pinna [outer ear] just like many others describe here). Also, at this point, when you place your hand over your ear you normally hear the rushing of blood (that unmistakable rumbling noise) don't you? Well, at the worst stage, I cannot hear anything - the only noise is the whining and roaring - which completely overrides everything. It's only when the symptoms start to fade that once again I can gradually hear the rumbling and the noise of blood rushing in my head when I cup my hand over the affected ear...... This is how incredibly complicated my problem is (has been) and I am still at a loss to find out exactly what - if anything - this might all be down to.
Although this has blighted me on and off tor TEN years now, I did have a couple of similar outbreaks (with exactly the same symptoms of distorted hearing, pressure and rumbling) when I was a lot younger at school (aged 14/15 to be exact - so that is over 25 years ago) - that was put down to an ear infection in which the doctor's prescribed ear drops would clear after a couple of weeks. But I never counted on the sudden re-emergence of it in 1995 - especially after the first "introductory" bout which lasted a mere four days. I shrugged it off at the time, but I was not prepared for the onslaught that awaited me for the rest of that year shortly after I visited the dentist to have a couple of fillings put in, which made me wonder if THAT was the reason why the ear problem came on in the first place. You know - contamination from metal or something....? Unlikely, I know, but still, enough to make you wonder!
As it is, I do have constant sinus problems cos I suffer badly from allergies - have done most of my life - hayfever and perennial rhinitis are the worst offenders. And when I sneeze I always - without fail - sneeze four or five times in succession - never ever just the once. And moreover I never have "dry sneezes". As soon as one sneeze is out, the nose just gushes and I have to blow it constantly just to clear the never-ending mucus from the sinuses. Perhaps it is this that has brought on this recurring chronic problem cos of the intense pressure it has placed on the eustachian tube. I don't know.
I have however only found ONE way of treating this problem - something which all the doctors and specialists have systemmatically failed to do. And that is via some herbal Chinese medicines - namely some tablets that are specifically meant for ear problems. These I take up to three times a day (they're small herbal pills which you swallow in clusters of about 8 or 10 each time with water). Initially I first got to know about these pills from a visit to China when I happened across a traditional homeopathic acupuncturist/ practitioner who took my pulse and prescribed me several bottles of these pills to take (a full five-month long course) to its completion. This occurred in November during my last "worst" year of the ear problem - 1998 - when I had the symptoms blight me for five to six months with very little respite at all. Three months later in early 1999 after regularly taking these pills and persevering, the ear problem cleared completely and never returned for over 20 months! So it must have worked.
Now whenever it recurs (which it has done in, variously, June 2001, October 2002, July 2003, June 2004, and December 2004) I get hold of these same pills and take another course, and usually it clears again. BUT - this time it seems my body could be about to start resisting it as I've been on the same stuff since February and the problem hasn't let go yet......so naturally I am getting rather anxious.
I've gone on a great length here for an introductory post but I hope some others find what I have to say interesting and offer up their own opinions and verdicts as to how it is that we get these strange afflictions and yet there doesn't seem to be any specific concrete diagnosis for this condition, other than the likelihood it seems to be an unholy amalgam of various recognised ear problems and disorders that we have all read extensively about elsewhere.