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Low humming noise in ear. Feeling dizzy and anxiety. CT scan done. Cause and cure?

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ENT Specialist
Practicing since : 2001
Answered : 2291 Questions
Hi, I have a low humming in my right ear for 2 months now. The humming is not from inside my head, because if i plug my ear the humming goes away. The humming is low and vibrational sound. I was dizzy for 1.5 months on the couch and had severe anxiety with all of this. The dizzienss was more bouncing of the earth type dizziness, not spinning room dizziness. I have seen a neurtolgist (head and neck guy) who has performed a ct, mri, Vemp Test, Vestubular testing, ecog test. The ct scan found some thinning of my right superior canal. My doctor said that nothing points there being a hole so has ruled out Superior Canal Dehescince. He feels the thinning is not that bad from what he sees. He wants me to try Nueronton for possible Vestibular Migraine. So far the medication has taken away the headaches, a lot of the fullness in head, and most the dizzienss, but i am left with this humming in my ear. Also to note the humming goes away if i take a hot shower or bath but soon returns for the rest of the day. I just cant figure it out and not knowing is making things worse. I just really want to know the cause. Could it be related to weather changes (barometer?) It is very cold right now where i live and snowey. Or maybe a fistula? Or could the thinning of the canal cause this kind of humming? Could this also be just Labyernthtis maybe a virus?

Before all of this happened i had had a baby 8 months ago, i started to work out again lifting weights and running, was feeling really good. I did get a respiratory cough for about 7 days prior where i kept coughing and coughing at night. Shortly after this, the whole house got the flu. But i didnt not get sick with the flu like everyone else though.

Thank you,
Posted Mon, 4 Mar 2013 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 19 hours later

Thanks for posting the query

The symptoms mentioned by you is typically of superior canal dehiscence syndrome which has responded well for the neuronton. The pulsating tinnitus you perceive is because of the pressure changes which takes place inside the skull.

The reduction in the tinnitus following warm shower is due to pooling of the blood in the peripheral regions such as upper and lower limbs. With this pooling, the blood the pressure falls down in the middle ear and the cranial cavity, thus reduction in tinnitus.

This is not related to any inner ear infection. You will require peripheral vasodilators for reduction of tinnitus.

Hope this answers your query; I will be available for the follow up queries.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Low humming noise in ear. Feeling dizzy and anxiety. CT scan done. Cause and cure? 9 minutes later
Thank you for response. My doctor says that there is no dehiscence (no hole) because the ct scan only shows slight thinning, and for what ever reason he feels the thinning is not that much. Plus the vemp test and balance test came out normal. Which proves to them there is no hole.

Do you think just from the thinning of the canal i would have this issue? Also, do you think it will get worse with time, the thinning will continute to erode?

Is it ok for me to exercise and run, or will it make things worse?

Thank you,
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 16 hours later

Welcome back

Vemp test is not a confirmatory test to rule out vestibular problems, because the test may be negative when there is sensorineural hearing loss in conditions such as Meniere's which can seldom overlap with Superior Canal Dehiscence (SCD) syndrome.

Secondly, a mild thinning of the canal can induce pulsatile tinnitus, autophony, dizziness, etc. This is what happened in your case when you had an attack of flu, followed by the above symptoms.

During an attack of flu, there is mild swelling in the mucosa of the nose, middle and inner ear which will exert pressure on the already thinned out superior canal thus giving rise to mild vestibular symptoms. And, the symptoms subsided once the flu cleared off from the system.

Now, in an already compromised inner ear, even mild pressure changes in the cranial cavity may induce pulsatile tinnitus but not all the symptoms of a typical SCD. Hence, with mild reduction of pressure in the cranial cavity in conditions like warm environment the tinnitus is not noticeable.

It is difficult to comment whether the thinning of the canal continues with passage of time. It may or may not happen and there is no data available to substantiate the progression of the same. I don't think so exercise will worsen the dehiscence or induce the vestibular problems.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Low humming noise in ear. Feeling dizzy and anxiety. CT scan done. Cause and cure? 7 hours later
Thank you for all the information. I really appreciate it and you have told me a lot of good information. I have a couple more questions:

1. Is there a natural substitute for peripheral vasodilators?

2. My doctor feels this is MIGHT be a Vestibular Migraine? He says that the VNG test shows a dizzienss only on the rotary chair portion, not the calorics part (hot and cold water in the ear) which is usually associated with Superior Canal Dehiscence. Also to note, i did not get the flu, my family did. I had a respiratory cough for about 7 days only. Would you say you disagree that it has to do with Vestibular Migraines, even though the Nueronton is helping?

3. Do you think that once summer comes and the weather is hotter, that the humming in the ear will dissipate?

4. Do you think that this will be as bad as it gets? Or could my condition worsen?

5. Will a doctor do surgery on only a thinning canal, or does there actually have to be a hole for there to be surgery option. Can it be resurfaced?

6. Can the superior canal bone mend itself back together or is that impossible? I read somewhere, that sometimes the bone can mend itself back together.

7. My humming in the ear does not pulsate it is just a constant low hum. That only does away in the bath tub? You dont think any of this has to do with like a heart condition do you?

thank you,
Answered by Dr. Naveen Kumar 16 hours later

Thanks for writing back

1.     You can try dipping the legs in a bucket of hot water (not very hot, but tolerable).
2.     I don’t agree with your doctor because, there was no headache associated with dizziness and tinnitus to label it as vestibular migraine. If the caloric test is negative, it indicates either a dead labyrinth or damage to the vestibular nerve. Neurontin is beneficial in many conditions, including prophylaxis of migraine, anxiety, etc. It helps by reducing the pressure in the medium sized blood vessels and thus in the cranial cavity. Finally, we do not know whether the cough was due to lower respiratory tract infection.
3.     May be the tinnitus will disappear once the summer starts.
4.     I don’t think so it will worsen any further, hence keep your anxiety levels low.
5.     No, your problem is a mild one. Surgery is performed only on those individuals whose symptoms are bad and does not improve with medicines.
6.     There is no evidence supporting the fact that the eroded bone can remodel by itself.
7.     Low humming sort of tinnitus is commonly related to the flow of the blood in the capillaries and small arterioles. It is not related to any cardiac condition. The humming noise will reduce while taking shower because of dilatation of the blood vessels when exposed to warm temperature.

Hope this clarifies your doubts.

Dr. Naveen Kumar N.
ENT and Head & Neck Surgeon
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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