I have had ringing in my right ear for about 2 weeks. My ear feels plugged up with partial hearing and no pain. What should I do?

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Abram bailey
Abram Bailey, AuD - Doctor of Audiology, Hearing Tracker Founder
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I don't typically answer these questions, but my personal opinion is to seek medical attention immediately. Your symptoms may be caused by something as simple as an earwax blockage, which can be easily remedied by your local doctor. However, the worst case scenario is that you're suffering from a case of sudden sensorineural hearing loss, which is typically treated as close to onset as possible (to increase the likelihood of resolution) with corticosteroids. 

"The most common treatment for sudden deafness, especially in cases where the cause is unknown, is corticosteroids. Steroids are used to treat many different disorders and usually work by reducing inflammation, decreasing swelling, and helping the body fight illness. Steroids are usually prescribed in pill form. In recent years, direct injection of steroids behind the eardrum into the middle ear (from here the steroids travel into the inner ear), called intratympanic corticosteroid therapy, has grown in popularity. In 2011, a clinical trial supported by the NIDCD showed that intratympanic steroids were no less effective than oral steroids, but were less comfortable overall for patients. They remain an option for people who can’t take oral steroids.

Additional treatments may be needed if your doctor discovers an actual underlying cause of SSHL. For example, if your SSHL is caused by an infection, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If you’re taking drugs known to be toxic to the ear, your doctor may tell you to stop or switch to another drug. If you have an autoimmune condition that causes your immune system to attack the inner ear, you may need to take drugs to suppress your immune system."

Read more at NIDCD

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Rahim  1mb
Rahim Ghanbari, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in West Vancouver
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I strongly suggest that you visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat Specialist or and Audiologist immediately.

Any disturbance or blockage of the ear canal (such as excessive ear wax, foreign body or...) may casue the fullness and ringing in the affected ear. There are also other transient possibilities such as the Eustachian disfunction or nasal congestion on one side. However, unilateral or one sided tinnitus and fullness/hearing loss requires urgent medical attention.

An Audiologist can examine your ears for any impacted earwax and evaluate your ears for any sign of hearing loss using Puretone Audiometry and Tympanometry tests. He/she may also conduct a tinnitus evaluation to find out what type of tinnitus (contineous or pulsating) you are experiencing. Based on the evaluation outcomes you will be referred for a medical attention and possible intervention immediately. 

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Kurt mooney
Kurt Mooney, BC-HIS - Hearing Healthcare Provider in St George
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Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician immediately.  Hopefully it is just impacted wax in the canal, which can be removed in office.  However, it could be something more serious, such as sudden onset sensorineural hearing loss, which may require treatment with corticosteroids.

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Philip  ellen small 15
Ellen Nathan, MA - Hearing Healthcare Provider in Glendale
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You should see an ENT immediately!  Sudden hearing loss is often due to a virus in the cochela.  It could be anything, but you MUST see an ENT IMMEDIATELY!  On the lighter side, it could be completely plugged up with wax, either way you need to see a doctor.

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Lisa Goldstein, MA - Hearing Healthcare Provider in Tarzana
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The experience of Tinnitus in one ear accompanied by feeling plugged and decreased hearing are symptoms that should be followed by your physician. A general practitioner, or even better, an ear nose and throat specialist will examine and help determine the source of your discomfort and a treatment plan. These symptoms are not terribly unusual but should medically .followed 

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002
Suzanne Yoder, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in Pittsburgh
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A change in hearing could indicate something simple like ear wax or something more serious.  Please have this medically evaluated as soon as possible.  An ear, nose and throat (ENT) physician has the most medical training for ear disorders.  Seeking care early is important for certain medical conditions of the ear as early treatment can reverse some causes of hearing loss.  Waiting could potentially cause more damage depending on what is causing the change in hearing.

Note: An audiologist can also perform necessary tests to determine the next step in treatment.  Given your symptoms, however, I would seek a medical opinion with an ENT first. Red flags include single-sided tinnitus and single-sided aural fullness. Once you are medically cleared an audiological assessment can help evaluate options for dealing with any permanent changes in hearing and communication. 

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Carly Jean Girard, AuD - Doctor of Audiology in Libertyville
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Get in to see an audiologist for a hearing test immediately!  The audiologist will complete a diagnostic hearing evaluation to determine the type of hearing loss.  Sometimes this can be caused by a simple wax build up or a middle ear infection (like you commonly see associated with a cold) but other times it can be a sudden sensorineural hearing loss which without prompt treatment may be permanent.  The most important thing to do right now is call a local audiologist and find out what it is.  They will then be able to make the appropriate recommendation.  Inform the office you call that this was a sudden change in your hearing and you need to be seen ASAP. 

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Member Lynda Wayne, Au.D - 5 months ago
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Have your Audiologist or primary care check for wax!

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Member Justin Brader - 5 months ago
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Get it checked out. I would recommend going to an Audiologist that way they can remove ear wax if necessary, but also have the equipment on hand to go a step further and check your hearing if necessary...

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Member Nichole Kovel - 5 months ago
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In my area, it is often difficult to get in to see an ENT as soon as might be needed in this case without certainty of cause. The easiest path to obtain immediate medical evaluation would therefore be to see an audiologist ASAP to check for wax and perform a hearing evaluation. Many audiologists in my area have relationships with ENT or otologists so that if immediate medical evaluations are needed, they could make calls to those ENTs and have you seen.

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