The human body is a complicated wonder. There’s a reason doctors go to school for so long. One of the most complicated parts of the human body is the ear and all that goes along with it. I recently was exposed to just how complicated the human hearing system is.
Are you experiencing problems with your ear, specifically your inner ear? Don’t mess around. Go see a doctor.
Two weeks ago, I was sitting at a swim meet when I got this weird sensation of the pressure in the room dropping, like taking off in an airplane. The windows I was looking at across the pool started spinning a little in a clockwise motion and the world got quieter. In fact, I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear. I had an urge to get up and get outside, but visions of being the big guy with a backpack that steps off the bleachers and stumbles into the pool kept me from going anywhere.
I made it out of the building and even managed to drive the car around to the other side of the parking lot, but I didn’t feel right. We went to Jimmy John’s where I couldn’t walk in a straight line into the restaurant and had to sit down. I also lost my virginity when it comes to upchucking in a restaurant bathroom. I proceeded to lose the “v-card” when it came to having to stop and puke on the side of a highway and in a Walgreen’s bathroom that day.
In the subsequent trips to the Urgent Care and to see an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist, I’ve found that this hearing loss could be the result of an inner ear virus, such as Labyrinthitis. One of the doctors I saw said that he had seen three people with my symptoms that day. I was first given a low dosage prescription of Prednisone to take. On the next visit, I was told to quit taking that the previous prescription and given a higher-dosage shot of it in my hip. I was also given a higher-dosage prescription to start taking.
Now, a little over two weeks later, the dizziness, loss of balance, nausea and the like are gone, but the hearing loss remains. Like just about everything in the medical arena, symptoms can mean a variety of different things. Is this just a virus or is it the result of something else? I had a brain tumor and brain surgery as a child so, I went to have an MRI done this morning just to check on things. I’m currently waiting for the results.
Well I received good news back in the MRI report. No tumors or anything serious like that showed up. I got the preliminary report on a Friday and the nurse mentioned something about stroke signs seen in the brain stem area that may require something called an MRA. I must say that freaked me out a little. On Monday, I received the final report and was relieved to hear that no additional scans were recommended by the Radiologist. That did, however, mean the cause of my hearing loss was still up in the air. I was told that the doctor recommended I move on to getting some steroid shots in my inner ear to try and clear things up. The office happened to have an opening later that afternoon. After some questions about the chances of the hearing coming back without doing anything (answer: no way to tell) and making sure the doctor definitely recommended it (he did), I decided to make the appointment.
I was told a little about the steroid injection early in the process and knew it was something I was hoping not to have to do.
I underestimated it.
The process consists of numbing the ear and putting a couple pin pricks in the area while you lie in the chair with your head titled. One of the pricks is to inject the steroid and one or two others are required to let it “breathe” or something like that. The pricks weren’t an issue, but the actual liquid BURNS, Dear God! If you yell obscenities loud enough for the whole hospital to hear you, you will be forgiven. Anyone who judges you clearly hasn’t been through this. Be prepared.
The burning subsided after only ten seconds or so for each of the two drops, but those 10 seconds were awful. After the shots, you have to sit still for twenty minutes without swallowing. What happens if you swallow? The pressure in your ear changes and the ‘roid might just run down your throat. After feeling it go in your ear, you don’t want it going down your throat.
I found that focusing on breathing helped during the twenty minutes. Have a real urge to swallow? Take deep breaths. You’ll be given some tissues for the drool that will inevitably come out of your mouth.
The doctor warned that I’ll feel the chemicals in my ear for a couple hours at least and maybe until the next day. The only instructions I had leaving the hospital were to not lie down for a couple hours. I felt periodic pain, I would describe it as a painful throb, in the ear for the rest of the night, especially when walking or hiccuping.
No more than five rounds of the steroid shots are recommended, one round per week. My doctor says that he follows a general rule of stopping at three rounds if hearing doesn’t start coming back by then.
I sure as hell hope the hearing comes back before Monday so I don’t have to go through more of these shots.
Most of the material on Labyrinthitis says symptoms can last for several weeks. Hopefully the hearing in my right ear returns to normal in a week or so, but who knows? I thought hearing was coming back in the ear after about a week. I went through a pretty intense audio test and realized that I was just trying to make that a thing. There still isn’t any hearing in the right ear. Talk about a buzzkill.
What causes Labyrinthitis? Sometimes it’s a virus you pick up while sometimes it is caused by bacteria. Some things that are said to cause it are excessive alcohol consumption, a history of allergies, smoking and stress. A doctor told me that he sees Labyrinthitis more in the summer months, but the disorder is mostly one of those medical mysteries that can really strike anyone at anytime.
If the hearing doesn’t come back, it isn’t the end of the world. Let’s hope for the best.
What Do I Recommend?
Are you experiencing any of the symptoms I talked about? Here’s what I recommend.
Go See A Doctor
Get in to see somebody as soon as you can. Go to an urgent care if you can’t get in to see your regular doctor. While hearing loss isn’t the end of the world, it also isn’t something to mess with. Your health isn’t something to nickel and dime so, if money is a concern, just remember that hospitals will work with you on what you owe if need be.
Don’t “WebMD” It
Like I said earlier, a variety of things share symptoms just like everything causes cancer. Don’t try to self-diagnose yourself on the internet. It will cause you way more stress because you’ll probably think you are going to die.
Do you have something to add? We’d love for you to share it in the comments below.
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