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Hearing effects from blast of feedback in headphones
Old 2nd October 2012
Lives for gear
otobianki74's Avatar
🎧 10 years
hey Jamon, have been following this thread.

sorry to hear about what you're going through. that really sucks. as a tinnitus sufferer I can understand some of your frustrations.

just wanted to chime in and say definitely go to the doctor. you never know man.

secondly, I agree you should lose the plugs. I think you're obsessing about what you're experiencing and it's magnifying things. by opening your hearing palate back up to the world you will give it a chance to reacclimatize.

the first time I started realizing I had tinnitus I did the same thing. kept thinking about it, obsessing about what can be done or what I could have done, excessively plugging my ears, holding my hands over my ears and analyzing every sound and pitch, trying to remember what I heard vs. what I was currently hearing... the list goes on.

anyway, the mental part was aggravating the actual physical condition. once I started to relax and kind of reset mentally I was able to better understand what was happening. after some time, the world as I knew it started to sound familiar and normal.

live outside your head a bit, be social, don't beat yourself up over it. things will work out.

let us know what your doctor says.

be well.

Old 2nd October 2012
Gear Head
🎧 10 years
Hey Jamon,

Wanted to reach out to you as well...I was a musician of 20+ years when I went through a similar issue. My ears got hit hard with really loud feedback from a side fill monitor. The sound engineer I was blessed to work with that night pegged the monitor aux and un-muted my vocal mic. I had terrible ringing and fullness in my ears for days. What your feeling is a threshold shift somewhere in your high frequency hearing. When our ears are exposed to loud noises the body slows down the blood flow to the cochlear. It acts as a natural defense to protect the sensory hairs. Our hearing returns to normal when the blood supply returns to normal. Most information you read will tell you that your hearing should stabilize after 48 hours. (I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage you not to "Google" your symptoms...I swear the grim pictures people paint online!) Obviously, your hearing does seem to be taking longer to normalize but try not to stress! As mentioned above by Otobianki74, worry leads to fear, fear causes anxiety and panic, that leads to tension, high blood pressure, tinnitus and other problems...all those things combined can cause hearing issues. It may sound crazy but it is very real. Keep your appointment, go see an ENT and get your hearing checked. The doctor will probably put you on a large dose of steroids, which is normal...if he or she tells you that you have some mild hearing loss (just as they told me)...understand that your brain will compensate for it. There are probably varying factors involved besides this last mishap. I have a dip at 6k. The doctor told me, it was likely from the years of performing and not just one single event. I can still hear 6k, I can still pick it out in a sibilant or nasty mix but it's not on par with my other frequencies when testing on an audio graph. Hearing loss is actually more common than you think...you'll play hell getting anyone to admit it but a lot of people in music will have some hearing loss. There's always exceptions to the rules but loud noise is the occupational risk of what we do. Think about a violinist...a violin can reach 95db in volume. The f hole is 6 to 8 inches from the ear and a concert violinist will practice how many hours a day? According to OSHA they're hearing aid bound...but would you tell a child not to pick up the Violin because it might cause them to have hearing damage later on? No, you would want them to have fun, work hard and enjoy music and life. I know what you are going through...I thought my musical days were over to. I thought I had become a Pete Townshend at 30 but things settled down and I'm still rockin and rollin. I make sure to protect my hearing very carefully now...I use plugs religiously when I perform and as I've gotten older and trained my ears better, I can actually hear things I couldn't in the past. I say all this to make a point... I know your worried and discouraged but your not alone. We all face adversity that threatens to take away the things we love. It's not an end...it just makes us fight harder. Hang in there man, I think your going to be ok. Keep us posted.

Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix.
Old 2nd October 2012
Gear Nut
🎧 10 years
I've had something similar happen to me, I panicked, lost my sleep for days and went to 2 different doctors for the tinnitus that developed after. What I've learned is that panicking will aggravate the condition A LOT. In practically every case, your ears will slowly and gradually heal. It might never go back exactly to where it was before the incident, but that is just something you will have to accept. Go to the doctor if you want to, but if you give it time, it will improve. In the meantime, if you can stand wearing earplugs pretty much all the time you can surely stand not wearing them too.

One thing is for sure, the more you focus on what you are not hearing, the less you will hear.
Old 2nd October 2012
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
Thanks for the replies.

I thought about the advice people have about not wearing earplugs all the time. I looked into it and found an experiment using guinea pigs where it sounded like they compared earplugs vs. noise. From skimming it the conclusion seemed to be that after an acoustic trauma the guinea pigs with the earplugs had more dead cilia than those exposed to noise. So if I read it right and it applies to humans, then that advice is right, and you shouldn't wear earplugs all the time after, and maybe even do some soft pink noise therapy, because wearing earplugs all the time after an acoustic trauma would lead to more loss.

I've been avoiding wearing earplugs, and taking vitamins and antioxidants. I searched the journals for anything involving acoustic trauma and evidence of improvement and looked to see which chemicals were for sale at local stores. They are: NAC, ALCA, CoQ10, resveratrol, magnesium, vitamin C & E, B-complex, and maybe gingko biloba. The main ones seem to be the NAC, ALCA, and CoQ10 antioxidants, with magnesium, C & E, and B-complex supporting.

I went in today for a hearing test and consultation with ENT doc. The audiologist was nice to talk to, and she said compared to most people my hearing is really good. But the test was limited to 8 kHz, and select frequencies, so it can't describe what I'm actually hearing, only that I'm still able to detect quiet beeps at those frequencies. There was a slight dip, equal in both ears, which was near the top, I think around 6 kHz if I remember right, but still above their threshold for normal. She said this can be indication of noise trauma, and hearing loss not measured by the test.

If you've never had this test before, which I hadn't, you just wear headphones and click a button when you hear the beeping. It goes through a handful of frequencies, beeping at normal volume, then quieter, and quieter. The thing is, I started to feel a rhythm, so I bet I could've cheated and just clicked when I expected a sound and got it right most of the time even if I didn't actually hear it. Then the headphones were replaced with a bone conductive device to send the beeps to the inner ear, which sounds similar.

On visual inspection my eardrums seemed fine, and the doc didn't think the fever had anything to do with the noise trauma. He didn't seem concerned at all, and said I'd have a full recovery. He said short blasts cause a temporary shift, but that I was recovering nicely. He said what everyone else has said, that it usually just takes a day or two, and that's usually how it is with me too. When I asked why it took over a week just for the fullness to go down, and why it's 3 weeks and still not better yet, he said he didn't know, that everyone is different.

I wanted to believe him. He didn't say "it's likely", or "you could", he flat out said I'm going to fully recover. But everything I read said if it's not better within a couple weeks that it's probably permanent, because the trauma creates a situation in which there's damage that results in the hair cells dying. From what I read it sounded like it's possible for some recovery up to a month, but if it's not 100% within days then you'll have permanent loss.

I asked him though how long he thought ears could still heal after, and he said months. He said people come in with their hearing suddenly almost gone, from a virus, and months later it can still be recovering. I said that's nerve damage though, so isn't it different from trauma, where it's cilia damage? But he said it's the same thing, that the cilia are neurological.

I said thank you for the good news, because I truly want to believe him. It's just, part of me doesn't. When I was on stage 10 years ago in front of a huge stack with no earplugs, my ears were recovering days after, but it never fully came back, and I just got used to the dampened kind of sound. I tried telling him this, but the point wasn't communicated well, and after seeing the hearing test seem fine and my eardrums seem fine he just seemed to think I'd be fine.

The ears of someone who works with audio though are not the same as most people. I could detect the tones softly not just because it was physically possible, but because my brain is trained to be able to isolate frequencies and detect subtle variations. It wasn't easy to hear those sounds in the hearing test, I think my brain is just optimized for it so it can still seem to out perform even when it's working with damaged hearing.

It's like if someone is a trained athlete, even with a sprained ankle they're going to seem to out perform most others. But they know their performance is greatly hindered, and they have to do a lot of workarounds to get close to what they could do before. I can draw a picture, or describe in detail all the ways what I hear is garbage. But I can still understand speech, and detect some tones, so to most people it's good enough.

I wonder if that's why he thinks it's "full recovery". If I didn't know better, because my fullness has gone away, and I can hear voices more clearly, I'd think it's recovered. If ENT people work with mostly normal people like that, then that's what they're talking about. But I'm not talking about being able to understand you speak. I'm talking about the full spectrum of audio sounding like my ears are suddenly made of paper, and there's a lowpass filter, with an EQ dipped down on a frequency in the vocal range, and like the overall spectrum was sandblasted to be full of holes and washed out, where lots of frequencies cause distortion, and a compression effect, where highs are brittle and mids are muddy, and lows are missing, and there's just a lot of information absent, where I feel my brain searching for what isn't there, making it difficult to "hear" what I'm trying to hear.

It's completely wrong. Yet, if you don't train in listening to mixes, and tweaking it subtly, then you probably don't notice all the differences. Like how some people can listen to music in $1 headphones and not be bothered by how papery it sounds. I truly wish I could believe, in full recovery, but I doubt. I think people just don't understand, and they get used to that papery sound and think they recovered.

People here know what I'm talking about. They've experienced stuff like it, and pay attention to sound, where they notice any difference. I bet if the ENT knew how that feels he'd not have told me it'd be a full recovery. But who knows, maybe it is just a threshold shift that can change back slowly. Then maybe suddenly all those frequencies missing will come back to life, and be EQed back to normal, where I can hear music again.
Old 2nd October 2012
Gear Addict
slackstallion's Avatar
🎧 5 years
maybe you could dip a q-tip in rogaine.

i'd research it first though.
Old 3rd October 2012
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
If only. Joking aside though, I think in that link talking about difficulties in developing new technology for this it says how a big problem in that sort of thing would be too many hairs, and in the wrong places. If that did work, you'd end up with a bunch of cilia everywhere, and probably not hooked up to nerves, but if they were functional, too much would cause hearing problems too. I wonder how it'd sound, why it'd cause problems. Maybe it overloads the brain with too much data, so you can't focus on anything, like a reverse deafness.
Old 3rd October 2012 | Show parent
Gear Guru
joelpatterson's Avatar
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
She don't lie, she don't lie, she don't lie... Rogaine!
Old 19th October 2012
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
Not back to normal yet. I'm thinking in a couple months I'm going to have to write to that doctor and tell him it's not nice to tell someone with acoustic trauma their hearing is going to have a full recovery if it's possible it's not. Especially when it'd already been weeks and wasn't back to normal in that time.
Old 19th October 2012
Lives for gear
ssaudio's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Who said it would only take 'weeks'?

It doesn't surprise me that you will 'write a letter', but as per previous posts, the only result will be in prolonging your agony through self-inflicted stress.
Old 19th October 2012
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
Since writing a letter is in quotation marks, I'm assuming you're imagining an angry retail shopper kind of writing. It's more like, I don't think he understands it, and needs to know what is a better way to handle it when facing such cases in the future. He already should've been aware of the antioxidant research and suggest for people presenting acoustic trauma to take those for a couple weeks or until better. Since he did not discuss that, I assume he is not aware, and even if my hearing does fully recover, I should still write a letter to share that information.

It's not until months have passed that I'll know his assessment was wrong. But in my experience, after hearing loss from sound exposure, if it's not returned in days, it's permanent. Maybe that's not how it works, but it's what I've known, and what I've read. I've never read about people losing hearing from acoustic trauma, then months later being fully recovered. The doctor is the only one I've heard that from.

I'm not spending all day agonizing. I've mostly ignored it. Usually the times I've thought about it, are when I posted. I use writing as expression, and it helps me explore thoughts and feelings.
Old 19th October 2012 | Show parent
Lives for gear
ssaudio's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by Jamon ➑️
Since writing a letter is in quotation marks, I'm assuming you're imagining an angry retail shopper kind of writing
Nope, I imagine someone proselytizing on a subject they are ignorant of, and continually missing the advice they are given.
Old 19th October 2012
Gear Maniac
🎧 10 years
Why are you upset? I followed your advice, except for exercise, because unfortunately I've been sick for weeks with a fever that kept returning.

I'm not entirely ignorant on the subject; I don't understand the detailed biology of how it works. In my questioning, it seemed the doc did not either, and in what I've read, it's apparently not entirely clear how it works. There's even competing theories for why hearing is lost after acoustic trauma. Because antioxidants show effectiveness, it doesn't seem to be entirely mechanical.

Everything we know is built on what has been discovered in this way, where people like you and me had to first make mistakes, and every contribution is potentially useful. You can't know exactly which berries are poisonous until someone gets sick. Then you can't know exactly how they're sick until you've autopsied and so it goes, as we slowly acquire knowledge.

There is so much we don't understand. Reducing stress and all that is generally useful, but it doesn't explain anything. If something is perfectly understood, you're more likely to be able to say something like, "Eat a banana, jump up and down 22 times, then pour 3 drops of lemon juice into each ear and you'll heal in 2 weeks."

What has been measured, based on my interpretation of the research papers, is that antioxidants reduce ear hair cell loss when begun immediately after trauma, with reduced effect as time goes on. If there's even the slightest hint at that being true, since there is no real danger in side effect, it should be standard for the ENT to tell people with acoustic trauma to start a course of this.

It should be a sticky on this website, telling people that when accidents happen, what they can do.

I could certainly be missing key information that makes whatever I think and say incorrect. But if that's true no one has explained how it works. If there's something so obvious like that, the doc would've given me that key concept, so I'd understand how it's possible to have full recovery months later doing absolutely nothing differently.
Old 20th October 2012
Lives for gear
ssaudio's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Originally Posted by Jamon ➑️
Why are you upset?
I'm not...

πŸ“ Reply
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