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Old 12th June 2019, 04:21 AM   #1
lionking
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Hearing problems

About 9 months ago my left ear started to feel like it was blocked, as if with water, like when I was a serious swimmer in my youth. This was obviously not the case here as I haven’t been swimming for years. In addition to this I have been suffering “cocktail party effect” where I can’t filter background noise and have to lipread people at parties.

I’ve been flying a lot recently and thought that might be a factor. Anyway I’ve been resisting calls from people about ear candling and other woo “remedies” and went to an ear nose and throat specialist a few months ago. He put me through numerous tests and said that my hearing was quite good for my age. My eardrums were intact, but there were nodes in my ears due to my swimming (when he first looked into my ears he said “ah, a swimmer”). The feeling of blockage was due to my eardrum protruding into my inner ear and creating a pressure differential. His advice? Hold my nose and pop my ears!!

Anyway, no progress, so I went back to him today. Although my ear felt more blocked, my hearing was still good. Hearing aids would be a waste of money according to him. Grommets would not work because of the spurs. “Learn to live with it” was his advice. Good to get such honesty.

Why this thread? I don’t know. Maybe someone has some advice. Maybe the lesson is to wear earplugs when swimming. Maybe I’m just pissed off with the blocked ear feeling.
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Old 12th June 2019, 04:38 AM   #2
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Not sure it's really advice, but in general - definitely get a second opinion, and don't ignore it if you're uncomfortable and are noticing hearing difficulty.

Mrs Worm got an infection a few years ago and has lost a significant proportion of the hearing in one ear. She wears a hearing aid, and would not be without it - she really notices the difference. But if you don't wear one (like her mother) you just get used to not hearing as well, and then forget that you have a problem at all - and it's quite easy for that to slip into not listening, not engaging, and increasing isolation.
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Old 12th June 2019, 04:43 AM   #3
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Have you taken a shower in the last few years? If not, please do so.
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Old 12th June 2019, 05:10 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by sphenisc View Post
Have you taken a shower in the last few years? If not, please do so.
Errrr??? Maybe it’s my hearing. A shower? Yes daily. Sometimes more than once.

Are you mistaken me from a Brit? Those guys shower every other year.....
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Old 12th June 2019, 06:32 AM   #5
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Repeated tooth or sinus infection swelled an ear shut. the other is fine I guess. Irritation from excess ambient noise is reduced, it is possible to sleep in a world of silence with the good ear against a pillow. And it is harder to hear people talk. Also became more difficult to separate some voices from ambient noises.

I can live with it. Maybe for the wrong reasons but to sleep at night is awesome. Everything has its upsides too and being able to not hear party music until 2am when the palapa is rented is great.
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Old 12th June 2019, 08:53 AM   #6
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I had a fair dose of 'airplane ear' for a while, but a nice ENT lady hauled a bunch of wax out of it. Problem solved. She also measured high-frequency hearing loss in both ears - which I'd been noticing for a fair while and unsurprising in a 68-year-old - but didn't recommend a hearing aid, just to come back in a year or so and repeat the test.

Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Are you mistaken me from a Brit? Those guys shower every other year.....
You exaggerate. It's about 10 years in this Brit's case, but because my balance is dodgy and I prefer a bath every month or so And I don't understand the shower reference either. Weird.
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Old 12th June 2019, 12:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
I had a fair dose of 'airplane ear' for a while, but a nice ENT lady hauled a bunch of wax out of it. Problem solved. She also measured high-frequency hearing loss in both ears - which I'd been noticing for a fair while and unsurprising in a 68-year-old - but didn't recommend a hearing aid, just to come back in a year or so and repeat the test.
No wax at all in the ear. I wish it was that simple. In fact I can hear equally well in both ears, even though my left one feels blocked.
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Old 12th June 2019, 03:50 PM   #8
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It took me about 7 years to convince the docs something was wrong with my ear. Finally, the planets aligned and I was able to demonstrate on camera in the office that there was a microscopic hole in my eardrum. They prescribed some drops (different than the kinds I'd tried before), and several weeks later it is about 80% better.
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Old 12th June 2019, 04:16 PM   #9
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If your ear feels plugged there are only a couple things that could be.

The air pressure is unequal on each side of your eardrum. That's why the suggestion to hold your nose and pop your ears. Chewing gum on take-offs and landings also helps. You might have a blocked eustachian tube which is not allowing the air to equalize.

The other reason is fluid behind the eardrum. That can be from allergies or an infection. Infection is unlikely if you are otherwise feeling well.

The doctor should have been able to diagnose either fluid or air by looking at your eardrum.

If she/he found the eardrum looked normal (not bulging or retracted) then you are going crazy. Kidding.

Have you tried a Google search?
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Old 12th June 2019, 04:18 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by alfaniner View Post
It took me about 7 years to convince the docs something was wrong with my ear. Finally, the planets aligned and I was able to demonstrate on camera in the office that there was a microscopic hole in my eardrum. They prescribed some drops (different than the kinds I'd tried before), and several weeks later it is about 80% better.
Did your ear feel 'plugged' with that, or did things sound funny because the eardrum wasn't functioning?
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Old 12th June 2019, 05:18 PM   #11
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I have no advise to offer I can only commiserate.

I have tinnitus in my left ear and hear a constant tone. I punctured the other ear drum as an infant so that ear has never been as good as it should and now hearing is dropping off and can not hear some things well. Conversation in a room with ambient noise is very difficult and even watching TV the only way to hear all the dialog is to turn the sound up to unacceptable levels.

Originally Posted by Worm View Post
[snip]
... you just get used to not hearing as well, and then forget that you have a problem at all - and it's quite easy for that to slip into not listening, not engaging, and increasing isolation.
That is exactly my experience. The only thing is I tend to be introverted and a bit reclusive by nature so have always felt a bit isolated in groups and that isolation is not as troubling as it might be for a more engaged and gregarious person.

Now I just need to practice shouting get off my lawn.
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Old 12th June 2019, 07:35 PM   #12
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I don't have a hearing problem. I often do, however, have a listening problem.

The thread reminds me that the doctor, a couple of weeks ago, told me I had a lot of wax in one ear. I wish I could remember which.
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Old 12th June 2019, 07:41 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
Did your ear feel 'plugged' with that, or did things sound funny because the eardrum wasn't functioning?
Yes, to both.
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Old 12th June 2019, 08:30 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
If your ear feels plugged there are only a couple things that could be.

The air pressure is unequal on each side of your eardrum. That's why the suggestion to hold your nose and pop your ears. Chewing gum on take-offs and landings also helps. You might have a blocked eustachian tube which is not allowing the air to equalize.

The other reason is fluid behind the eardrum. That can be from allergies or an infection. Infection is unlikely if you are otherwise feeling well.

The doctor should have been able to diagnose either fluid or air by looking at your eardrum.

If she/he found the eardrum looked normal (not bulging or retracted) then you are going crazy. Kidding.

Have you tried a Google search?
It is a difference in pressure causing the blocked sensation. I may get a second opinion, but at over $200 per consultation........
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Old 12th June 2019, 10:54 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
It is a difference in pressure causing the blocked sensation. I may get a second opinion, but at over $200 per consultation........
I thought you Aussies had national health care?

Get the first doc to refer you for another opinion. Wouldn't that make it covered?

Especially if the first doc is family practice, can't you ask for an ENT referral because the sensation is not resolving?
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:05 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
The other reason is fluid behind the eardrum. That can be from allergies or an infection.
Or because you have a hole in your skull.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:12 PM   #17
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My eyes are getting worse, but there's nothing wrong with my hearing yet.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:39 PM   #18
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Do a home hearing test.
1. Stand on one leg. Close your eyes.
2. Repeat for other leg.

If you can do the above for 20+ seconds for each leg then there is nothing wrong with your hearing. Anything less than that I suggest you have a hearing test. These are free.

Plenty of choice of where to go. Start here https://www.google.com/search?q=hear...hrome&ie=UTF-8

Though if you are going to a specialist you probably already have been there.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:43 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Why this thread? I don’t know. Maybe someone has some advice. Maybe the lesson is to wear earplugs when swimming. Maybe I’m just pissed off with the blocked ear feeling.

Or maybe it's one of those damned-if-you-do-and-damned-if-you-don't cases:

Quote:
Risk factors for acute cases include swimming, minor trauma from cleaning, using hearing aids and ear plugs, and other skin problems, such as psoriasis and dermatitis.
Otitis externa (swimmer's ear) (Wikipedia)
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:47 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
If you can do the above for 20+ seconds for each leg then there is nothing wrong with your hearing.

Not true. My sense of balance is excellent. My hearing isn't.
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Old 12th June 2019, 11:59 PM   #21
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It all depends on the reason for the hearing loss. If you can't hear because of a buildup of wax in your outer ear, that's not going to affect your balance, which is managed in your inner ear.
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Old 13th June 2019, 12:23 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Not true. My sense of balance is excellent. My hearing isn't.
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
It all depends on the reason for the hearing loss. If you can't hear because of a buildup of wax in your outer ear, that's not going to affect your balance, which is managed in your inner ear.
Your sense of balance could be due to your eyesight. Try my test and see what happens. Remember to keep your eyes shut.
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Old 13th June 2019, 12:25 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Your sense of balance could be due to your eyesight. Try my test and see what happens. Remember to keep your eyes shut.
Yeah, I have terrific balance from a lifetime of sword fighting. I'd pass your test if I were deaf.
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Old 13th June 2019, 01:09 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Skeptic Ginger View Post
I thought you Aussies had national health care?

Get the first doc to refer you for another opinion. Wouldn't that make it covered?

Especially if the first doc is family practice, can't you ask for an ENT referral because the sensation is not resolving?
Oh we do, provided we want to wait to see a doctor who charges the scheduled fee. For specialists, yes you need a referral, but they pretty much charge more than the scheduled fee.

For GPs, many charge the scheduled fee (“bulk billing” we call it) but mine doesn’t, and I know this. Fortunately for me, he “bulk bills” over 65s like me. But with specialists, wait a long time or pay. To be more specific about my bill, I was actually charged over $300, but got $150 or so (the scheduled fee) back.

The really annoying thing is that I have private health cover as well, which is great if I need to be hospitalised, but my cover only applies to certain specialists (dental, physio, optometry, I cant remember the others) but not ENT. I might look at increasing my cover but it is expensive.

I’m happy with our health system which provides great basic care, and requires people to pay more if they want better than basic care.
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Old 13th June 2019, 04:57 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Yeah, I have terrific balance from a lifetime of sword fighting. I'd pass your test if I were deaf.
Try it and report back. Since you are much younger I expect you to be able to stand on your bad one leg with your eyes shut for at least 30 seconds. The only way you could do this if you were deaf would be feedback from your legs.
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Old 13th June 2019, 09:29 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Try it and report back. Since you are much younger I expect you to be able to stand on your bad one leg with your eyes shut for at least 30 seconds. The only way you could do this if you were deaf would be feedback from your legs.
Why on earth would this be true? It seems to assume that "deaf" is the same as "abnormal vestibular system".
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Old 13th June 2019, 10:30 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by BowlOfRed View Post
Or because you have a hole in your skull.
Most of us have more than one!!!
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Old 13th June 2019, 10:36 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by fuelair View Post
Most of us have more than one!!!
touche...

How about an unusual one?
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Old 13th June 2019, 05:27 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Yeah, I have terrific balance from a lifetime of sword fighting.
Does this work the other way? I have excellent balance, can I assume I would be a proficient swordsman? Nay, a swordsmaster! A master swordsmaster!! I'm going to go challenge the Black Knight at his dojo. Assuming he lets me borrow a sword I'll slice him to pieces!

Back to the ear thing, it's obviously lupus.
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Old 13th June 2019, 05:45 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by TragicMonkey View Post
Does this work the other way? I have excellent balance, can I assume I would be a proficient swordsman? Nay, a swordsmaster! A master swordsmaster!! I'm going to go challenge the Black Knight at his dojo. Assuming he lets me borrow a sword I'll slice him to pieces!
Only if you're not left-handed.
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Old 13th June 2019, 06:48 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Try it and report back. Since you are much younger I expect you to be able to stand on your bad one leg with your eyes shut for at least 30 seconds. The only way you could do this if you were deaf would be feedback from your legs.
Haha. I love it when people say I'm still young. In 6 months I'll be batting my half century.

Yeah, I can stand on one leg for 30sec with my eyes closed, unless I've been drinking. I can shift my weight around, lean forwards, lean backwards, gyrate my hips like Elvis without losing balance. I can also stretch my arms out to the sides, close my eyes and touch my nose every time. Feedback from one's legs is proprioception, and for a dancer or martial artist, this is a highly developed sense. It's one I've been actively training since I was 15.
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Old 13th June 2019, 09:58 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Your sense of balance could be due to your eyesight. Try my test and see what happens. Remember to keep your eyes shut.

I did try your test with my eyes closed. I can do it, but I was surprised how difficult it was with my eyes shut. For some reason, I found it easier to do with my shoes on than barefoot.

Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Try it and report back. Since you are much younger I expect you to be able to stand on your bad one leg with your eyes shut for at least 30 seconds. The only way you could do this if you were deaf would be feedback from your legs.

So now it suddenly is possible, but only with "feedback from your legs," which is what exactly? Without feedback from my legs, I wouldn't be able to stand at all - not even on two legs and with my eyes open.
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Old 13th June 2019, 10:22 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
I did try your test with my eyes closed. I can do it, but I was surprised how difficult it was with my eyes shut. For some reason, I found it easier to do with my shoes on than barefoot.
Your balance mechanism uses visual and proprioceptive input as well as signals from the semicircular canals in your inner ear. Probably other senses as well, but these appear to be the most important. Closing off the visual pathway makes it harder to keep your balance, but it can still be done.

Originally Posted by dann View Post
So now it suddenly is possible, but only with "feedback from your legs," which is what exactly? Without feedback from my legs, I wouldn't be able to stand at all - not even on two legs and with my eyes open.
That would be the proprioception that I was referring to before - your sense of where your limbs are relative to your body and each other. Your muscles send feedback into your brain on their position and motion even as your brain is itself directing that position and motion, and yes, this is going on constantly.

Temporary impairment of proprioception is responsible for phantom limb syndrome, as well as the awkwardness of teenagers.
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Old 13th June 2019, 11:34 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by BowlOfRed View Post
Why on earth would this be true? It seems to assume that "deaf" is the same as "abnormal vestibular system".
vestibular - relating to a vestibule, particularly that of the inner ear, or more generally to the sense of balance.

The job of your inner ear is both to help with hearing and your sense of balance. If you have problems with your inner ear then you are likely to have problems with both hearing and your sense of balance. Any problems with the inner ear would be serious. Hence my suggestion that anyone with hearing problems try my test. If you fail and suspect you may have hearing problems then I suggest you see a professional urgently.

Of course not all problems with ears are related to the inner ear. A person with problems in the ear canal could still be deaf and pass my test, even without the type of training arthwollipot has received. With the right training you could pass or fail almost any simple test.

arthwollipot is 20+ years younger than lionking.

To read more about your ear read https://www.md-health.com/Parts-Of-The-Ears.html
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Old 13th June 2019, 11:48 PM   #35
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When he told you to hold your nose and pop your ears...were you able to do that? Valsalva maneuver sounds like what you need. It can be difficult if your Eustachian are inflamed or blocked. Try tilting your head away from the blocked ear, stretching that side out and try again.

Years in the Marines flying on CH-46E's did a number on my ears. I routinely get Vertigo, have severe tinnitus, hearing loss, vestibular Hypo function etc etc. I valsalva 30 to 50 times a day.
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Old 13th June 2019, 11:53 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
Your balance mechanism uses visual and proprioceptive input as well as signals from the semicircular canals in your inner ear. Probably other senses as well, but these appear to be the most important. Closing off the visual pathway makes it harder to keep your balance, but it can still be done.

That would be the proprioception that I was referring to before - your sense of where your limbs are relative to your body and each other. Your muscles send feedback into your brain on their position and motion even as your brain is itself directing that position and motion, and yes, this is going on constantly.

Temporary impairment of proprioception is responsible for phantom limb syndrome, as well as the awkwardness of teenagers.
One of the most revealing and simple tests they did when trying to figure out my issues was to close my eyes and stand on a thick cushion. I lasted about 1 second before falling.
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Old 14th June 2019, 12:25 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
One of the most revealing and simple tests they did when trying to figure out my issues was to close my eyes and stand on a thick cushion. I lasted about 1 second before falling.
Yeah, an unstable surface would make it harder. That's also probably why dann found it easier with shoes than barefoot. Arch support.
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Old 14th June 2019, 03:40 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by 383LQ4SS View Post
One of the most revealing and simple tests they did when trying to figure out my issues was to close my eyes and stand on a thick cushion. I lasted about 1 second before falling.
That is a variation of the test I suggested above. Would test the same things.
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Old 14th June 2019, 04:37 AM   #39
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I've learned something -- I too was surprised by how different it is with eyes closed. I seemed to find it slightly easier to balance with eyes closed outdoors than indoors, because I could sort of listen to the sound-field outside -- birds chirping -- and orient myself a little. I got better with practice. I can only manage 8-12 seconds or so, but then I failed the balance-test in the canoe at summer camp, too.

It's maybe not so strange that since moving to the country where it's much quieter, at first I was pretty aware of some mild tinnitus -- just high-pitched background hash -- but as time goes on I'm less and less aware of my ears ringing. Not because they don't ring a little, but because now I'm used to hearing it.

When I go upstairs to my quiet room which is nearly anechoic I can hear my ears ring a little but barely hear myself talk. It's a feeling of disappearing into the environment that I rather like, but some don't.
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Old 14th June 2019, 06:32 AM   #40
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I think it's important not to let yourself get annoyed by the tinnitus 'sound'. I noticed it the first time when I was about 10 and found it quite fascinating. I played around with it a little and noticed that if I actively tried to 'listen' to the 'sound', it would go away at some point - only to appear again at times when I didn't deliberately try to notice it. For this reason, maybe, It never worried me, and it never stopped me from sleeping or relaxing.
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