Drumming With Damaged Ear / Possible Tinnitus

Witterings

Silver Member
I've had d 6 year break from playing but dug out one of my kits just before Xmas and have been absolutely loving playing again.

The only thing is I'd forgotten how bad one of my ears had got and it had improved from not having played for so long.

It feels like when you've got water in the ear and can't clear it or when you’re descending in an airplane and can't balance the pressure ... combined with some ringing although that's not too bad.

If I’m playing normally I put in a pair of hero earplugs and then a pair of protective headphones (no music just sound isolating) over the top and that doesn’t really help much, it’s worse though if I play with a pair of in-ear sound isolating monitors with music going through them and then the ear muffs over the top to reduce the noise level of the drums so the I can keep the level of the music lower but I wonder if it’s the music level going in the ear that it doesn’t like rather than the drums.

I was thinking about getting a set of higher isolation headphones that play music and then something else in the ear to see if that makes any difference.

If anybody else have similar and if so have you found any effective way of managing it and still being able to play … I feel as though I’m at that cross roads of having to decide whether my love of playing is worth the damage it’s probably doing to my hearing or whether to have to give up for good which would be a very sad day.

Any help / input would be much appreciated.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I was thinking about getting a set of higher isolation headphones that play music and then something else in the ear to see if that makes any difference.

They don't have to be high quality. I use the ones from my iPhone and put a set of shooting muffs over them. They are loud enough to hear the music and the muffs keep the loud drums sounds out.

There are plenty of other suggestions in the Gear, Other Gear section.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
It's weird that things are still too loud for you with the heros in.

I would check that you're correctly inserting them far enough. Pulling back on your ear while inserting them really helps.
 

Witterings

Silver Member
I would check that you're correctly inserting them far enough. Pulling back on your ear while inserting them really helps.
I think I am .... I've also found wetting them a bit helps them slide in so just make them damp before I insert them which makes it a lot easier and they seem to go a lot deeper.

If anybody else has any other suggestions would be pleased to hear them.
 

gmiller598

Senior Member
If I'm not playing along with anything in my basement I use Earasers. I got them mainly to use for my drumline teaching but they work pretty well in my basement too. If I am playing along with something, I have some over the ear headphones that aren't noise canceling but do a pretty good job of blocking out most external noise.
 

Ahchv

Member
I’m in the same boat - only in my 30’s and basement player but no matter what - even when I use earplugs - I get some residual ringing.

Any suggestions or does this mean no more drumming!?
 

motleyh

Senior Member
I’d highly recommend a visit to an audiologist to really find out what your situation is and what options are available for you. Try to find someone who has worked with musicians before. If you get a referral from your regular doctor it’s possible that health insurance could cover the examination/testing.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I’m in the same boat - only in my 30’s and basement player but no matter what - even when I use earplugs - I get some residual ringing.

Any suggestions or does this mean no more drumming!?
Are you sure you haven't done the damage already and have relatively constant tinnitus? Sometimes it's not apparent until you start "listening" for it, I know that sounds weird...
 

Ahchv

Member
I think there is certainly a little bit of that but I did get my ears checked and there was no hearing loss but the ringing is sometimes a little bit worse and I haven’t been able to find a correlation to playing drums :(

Since that’s One of the biggest sources I just assume it’s coming from the drums and not from elsewhere
 

Patrice B

Active member
I have ringing in my left ear (mild tinnitus) since 2008, long before I began to play drums. Now, one of my colleague (a drummer), told me that she always wear earplugs practicing or playing. I've never thought about it but won't never practice or play again without wearing them. I already have hearing loss due to my job (music teacher in elementary school, flutes, xylophones, etc... and also bad habits when I was younger, I'm now 46).

I've also had the fear of my life this week: woke up Monday with a sensation of pression in my left ear with hearing loss. No doubt, it was earwax accumulation so a little water mixed with Peroxyde and rinsing and it was gone... but the hearing loss remained!!! So, I've took an emergency appointment to the doctor yesterday (for today). In the meantime, I used cortisone nasal spray and ear drops antibiotics. This morning, hearing improved a lot but as the appointment was already set, I saw the doctor and he has found that my left ear was maybe a little irritated and that there was probably a bit of liquid behind my eardrum, hence the feeling and the slight hearing loss remaining.

I had a similar episode in may (earwax, cleaning, etc...) and my hearing was affected for almost one week.

The way I verified yesterday is simple: with a pair of headphones on a MacBook feeding a low volume 60 hz and then 12 kHz, I noticed immediately that something was wrong.

In conclusion, I have really fragile ears and having problems with air pressure between internal and external ear (Eustachian tube). Following the may episode, it should be back to normal in 24/48 hours.

Anyway, as our ears are important for us musicians, we must take care of them (one thing I didn't always took care).
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I wager 30-40% of all drummers and forum members have some hearing loss and/or tinnitus. I think drums have the highest incidence of hearing loss of any musical instrument.
 

Patrice B

Active member
I suggest a visit to an audiologist ASAP. They should be able to diagnose your condition and recommend the proper approach.
Thanks,

I'll see how it evolves in the next few days: I've put again some antibiotic ear drops this afternoon and a shot of nasal spray ... and I sense pressure again and muffled hearing. My thought is that I must stop to put anything in my ear as it was almost perfect this morning... As I said, the same thing happened in may and everything was back to normal as soon as my ear had much time to heal itself (meaning no q-tips or anything inside).
 

notvinnie

Senior Member
The audiologist will give you a hearing test which will show you how well your ears hear different frequencies. Highly recommended for everyone. They can also fit you for custom molded hearing protection.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I wonder if it isn't your hearing as inner ear hair cells being damaged but your eardrums not functioning properly (since you say it improves at times) perhaps due to Eustachian tube problems. My Mom and most of her siblings had radical mastoidectomies from ear problems. I similarly had problems my whole life-I suspect some familial anatomical defect in our Eustachian tubes (it precipitated a benign tumor to grow in my left mastoid airspace) . When your Eustachian tubes don't function properly there is no way to equilibrate pressure and you extravasate fluid behind your eardrum (sounds like your head is in a drum). You can get ringing and get vertigo too. Since I was ten I periodically have to see an ENT to pop a hole in my eardrum and suck out the fluid . They then put in a tube so it can ventilate. They usually just put a drop of phenol to sterilize and numb it, pop it with a needle and suck the fluid out with a vacuum device (feels wonderful oddly enough). The tubes stay in awhile but always fall out-then sooner or later fluid will build up again. Have had a few to fall behind my eardrum and they had to cut a hole in my ear drum and pull it out. I couldn't believe my ENTs steady hand grabbing it and pulling it out withou8t damaging my ossicles. As I've gotten older the hole remains patent for longer periods.-this last tube fell out over a year ago now and still patent (I'm super happy). Shoot I digressed. Anyways all the head gear maybe altering your normal swallowing or you are tensing your jaw muscles (there are four that attach to your Eustachian tubes to control it opening and closing). It maybe affecting it's function closing off-so it sounds like your head is in a drum (a sound oh so familiar).
 
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Patrice B

Active member
Now 11h30 PM and it's less pronounced (better) ... again so I'll wait and see (hear!). However, definitely having the impression that left side of my head is in a drum... I saw reading online that this condition (fluid behind eardrum) often tends to resolve itself. I must also refrain to play with ear drops, water or cleaning again!!
 

Patrice B

Active member
Well, took an appointment with an audiologist (ORL) next tuesday. Situation didn't improved this morning, hearing loss and sensation of pressure is back!
 

Patrice B

Active member
Could also be some earwax remaining: the doctor I saw yesterday said that it was clean but the total time of the appointment was maybe 2 minutes! It happened to me 7 or 8 years ago to see a doctor and being told that my right ear was clean... and later removing myself (peroxyde and water) a plug of around 1cm! But like said before, I will refrain to attempt anything by myself and let the professional do its job next Tuesday.
 
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