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Audiology/Otolaryngology/clipping/popping sound in left ear


QUESTION: Dear doctor

Please excuse my English as itís not my mother tongue. Iím a 28-year-old male. I have had tinnitus since the beginning of 2011 which I assume was caused by anxiety for I have OCD. I have never taken any medicine to treat tinnitus. Recently I noticed a popping/clipping sound accompanying my voice in my left ear. It is the kind of sound a cheap or broken speaker/earbud tends to produce when playing high frequency music at high volume. I feel as if there was something wrong in the vibration of some part in my hearing system. It is easier to detect when I speak or sing in relatively high pitch. I canít tell when it started to appear exactly.

Hearing tests showed that both ears are below 30dB from 4K to 6K section while in June the left ear was all above 30dB. General performance decreased a little bit compared with Juneís result. The doctor said the auditory tube was complete and all seems normal.

I would like your insight on this matter. Did they miss anything? Do I need other tests?

Thanks a lot.

ANSWER: Hello Cole,

You are young at 28 to have mild high frequency hearing loss.  Was this sensorineural or conductive?  Do you have a history of noise exposure or family history of hearing loss?

Did you have a tympanogram (measures middle ear status)?  This test is a short puff of air to the ear canal while a probe measures and graphs the response.

Do you have a history of ear infections, inflammation, or a recent cold or respiratory infection?

Clint Keifer

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Doctor,

I was told it was sensorineural. I had been experiencing tremendous anxiety and expression right before the tinnitus appeared. I canít remember being exposed to major noise sources except I used to listen to music with in-ear earbuds during motorbike rides to work while wearing a helmet for less than an hour a day at moderate volume. My father has suffered from tinnitus in his left ear since 2002 when he was 45 years old and now he has considerable hearing loss in that ear who can not talk on the phone with it.   

Attached is the tympanogram result.

I donít have a history of ear infections, inflammation and I have not caught a cold for some time. I have allergic rhinitis but it has rarely broken out since the arise of tinnitus. I had tooth braces from 2006 to 2008.


Sensorineural hearing loss and the tympanograms you attached to agree, although "clicking" and "popping" sounds can still be middle ear related (eustachian tube).  It appears as though you have some family history and noise exposure (depending on noise from motorbike/music--can be louder than you might think).  I would speculate that you have a predisposition to hearing loss/damage and environmental, health, and medication exposures may have a stronger impact on you than the average individual.  

Unfortunately, most sensorineural hearing loss will not recover.  You best bet is to protect yourself from noise and investigate any medications you may be currently prescribed by your doctor for potential hearing/tinnitus effects.  Sometimes changing a medication or dosage can help.  Depression and anxiety (and associated meds) have been found to be connected to tinnitus.  

Finally, there is evidence that certain vitamins/antioxidants provide some protective mechanisms to the ear.  This may be a vitamin supplement or even better, though natural foods (such as blueberries, pomegranate, etc).  I have tinnitus myself and take a supplement high in antioxidants and also eat and drink foods that are high in these compounds.  It definitely does not hurt and may add some protection to your hearing system.

You should continue to communicate with your audiologist and have your hearing checked annually or sooner if you notice a change.

I hope this helps you.

Clint Keifer


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Dr. Clint D. Keifer, Audiologist


I am qualified to answer all questions related to the diagnosis and rehabilitative treatment of hearing and balance disorders. This includes evaluation of hearing and balance, counseling, amplification (hearing aids and assistive devices), tinnitus (noises in head) evaluation and management, cochlear implants, and audiology in general.


I started my career as a hearing instrument specialist (on a trainee license) in 1998. After almost 2 years, I decided that I needed to pursue higher education if I was to provide the best care to hearing impaired patients that I could. In 2007, I completed my Doctor of Audiology and have been providing audiological care for almost 5 years. I have vestibular, cochlear implant, and pediatric experience along with prescribing, fitting, and verification of hearing aid amplification as part of comprehensive hearing loss rehabilitation.

Audiology doctor and owner at Great Lakes Audiology in Toledo, OH. phone: 419 327-2273 website: American Academy of Audiology American Speech-Language Hearing Association Ohio Academy of Audiology

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Western Michigan University, Speech Pathology and Audiology Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), Ohio State University Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A)

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