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Can outer ear infection reach to inner ear and cause tinnitus?

Answered by
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Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal

ENT Specialist

Practicing since :2008

Answered : 1392 Questions

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Posted on Thu, 13 Sep 2018 in Ear, Nose and Throat Problems
Question: Hello Doctor,
I am 32 years old and first I would like to brief about my medical history.
I have history of ear infections since childhood. When I become adult at around 18, doctor diagnosed me that I have seborrheic dermatitis of outer ear canal, that's why I keep on constant scratching outer ear and cycle of damaging scratching, and again scratching kept on infections. I started applying creams etc. and have learnt to live with this somehow. Every time this infection comes it stays for 7 or 10 days and then goes.
Last year in July 2017, again same thing happened my right ear got blocked with infection, pain and discomfort and swelling, and I had kept waiting for let the infection go and didn't take any antibiotics but it stayed for approx. 25 days. At that time I had to undergo MRI as physical health checkup for body. So the day i had undergone MR, ear infection was also there. I still remember Nurse gave me Head phone well fitted on my ears when I was in MRI machine which went for approx 20 mins. Sound was pretty high though.
So in short following happened: XXXXXXX 2016: Endoscopy of stomach with Sedation.

Dec, 2016: I started feeling like when I see fast moving object I feel little nausea and dizziness. I asked my endoscopy doctor if any brain hypoxia can cause this as I was sedated. But he showed me reports that during sedation oxygen was 99 % as they were monitoring that well.

XXXXXXX 2017: Ear Infection plus MRI with Ear Infection
July, 2017: Ear Infection gone and everything was normal.
Nov, 2017: I went to ENT Doctor, he said everything looks normal and eardrums are well intacted.
Dec, 2017: I started tinnitus in ear.

January,2017 : Tinnitus is normally as I am use to it but suddenly even lower pitch sound like even typing seems to me like somebody is hitting is too loud. Not every sound but many I can hear too large now.

I have no pain in any of my ears and even I feel no blockage. Can you please help me in following answers?

1. Can it be possible Last infection went inside to inner ears and damaged something permanently? If yes then why didn't I feel anything unusual in July August Sept.
2. Having MRI with ear infection can be the cause, but they have given me good HeadPhone to reduce sound. If this is true then tinnitus should have happened immediately after that but I didn’t feel anything for almost one month post MRI.
3. Do you still feel there can be hidden inner ear infection exist in body while I am feeling no pain or anything in ears. Will taking antibiotics this time will make any impact.
4. Can you think It can be hyperacusis or recruitment, I read these on internet.

Thanks for reading so much details. I hope you can understand my pain.

Thanks
Aman
doctor
Answered by Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Tinnitus

Detailed Answer:
Hi

I have read the whole history. I would like to answer your questions one by one.
1. Certain ear infections can lead to inner ear involvement which can cause symptoms of tinnitus. This is due to the nerve loss caused by the infection. As the loss is usually gradual, it can be noticed by the patient only once it has progressed to a certain level.
2. No having a MRI with ear infection won't cause any such side effects.
3. As per my clinical experience you are probably having middle ear disease for which you should get your ears examined by an ENT specialist again and if required, a CT scan temporal bone might be done.
4. Hyperacusis is increased sensitivity to sound and recruitment is a auditory phenomena.

Please send me the audiometry report if done so that I can suggest you better.

Hope I have answered your query. Any further questions are always welcome.

Take care,
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal, ENT Specialist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal 12 hours later
Thanks XXXXXXX for Reply, As i have asked earlier can you please answer me following :

1. Do you feel inner ear infection still exist in my ears, despite the fact i feel no pain in ear and normal with my ears.

As you suggested i have taken another appointment with E&T Doctor but unfortunately i get it on Feb 24th.

Till then can i start taking antibiotics if you feel any inner ear infection is there.
I have 15 doses of Bactrim (sulfamethoxazole and trimethoprim) DS left with me which my last physican gave me in case i feel ill due to ear infection again. Can i take those, will that make any effect now to heal my ears, or will this have any side effects to my ears.

I have also scheduled for audiometry for ear and got an appointment on Feb 15. Please tell me will taking this test make my sysmtons worse as they will poke different sounds to my ears which are already hurting.

2..Please advise i don't feel tinnitus any more but this new things where normal sounds to me sounds very large, like shower sound, door open sound, even phone sound very high to me, is it Hyperacusis for sure?? Will it get worse with time or can it go away, will it be permanent damage.

Thanks
Aman
doctor
Answered by Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal 26 hours later
Brief Answer:
Tinnitus

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

1. If you don't have any symptoms, my advise to you is to avoid taking any medicines. It is better to get an audiometry done and send me the report.
2. Taking the test won't increase your symptoms. It will help to diagnose any nerve loss only.
3. If tinnitus has subsided and you feel the sounds to be louder than too once an audiometry is must. Secondly an ENT specialist might do aN eustachian tube function test as it can be a reason for these symptoms.
4. Any nerve loss is a permanent one but if it is due to infection or inflammation than it is recoverable and treatable.

Follow up with the reports. It will help me suggest you in a better way.

Hope I have answered your query. Any further questions are always welcome.

Take care
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal, ENT Specialist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal 43 minutes later
Thanks Doctor, I have got an appointment of audiometer on Feb 23rd.
Please advise what can I done till that. Would it make it worse if i will wait till then. Even next appointment with ENT doctor is on Feb 25th.

Is taking antibiotics will make any thing good till then. Or should i wait.

I have to change my Audiometry centre to Feb 23rd as my insurance is not covering the center which gave me Feb 15th appointment.
But if you suggest i can do it on Feb 15th.

One thing more, i was diagnosed with Prostatic 6 months back. Due to think Prostatic infection can reach to ear.

Thanks
Aman
doctor
Answered by Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal 23 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Tinnitus

Detailed Answer:
Hi,

You can wait till 23rd.

Avoid taking any medicines before a proper diagnosis.

Prostate infection won't have any effect on ear but the medicines taken might have some side effect. What antibiotics you took for prostate infection?

Awaiting response.

Hope I have answered your query.

Regards,
Dr. Priyanka Aggarwal, ENT Specialist

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
doctor
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