Deafness/Hearing Impairment/minor but unusual hearing issue


I am unable to find any answer online so thought I would try here.  This is a little difficult to describe, as it is subtle, but for the past several weeks, voices including my own have sounded somewhat hoarse/harsh/shrill to me.  I notice it more with women's and children's voices, and also notice it particularly with voices on television.  The louder someone is talking, the more noticeable it is.  Relatedly (I think)I also have noticed that when I speak on the phone, or hold my hand over my ear, my own voice with certain sounds (vowels primarily) produces a very slight "tone" in my left ear. This is inconsistent, however.

I have no sense of aural fullness.  Volume is fine, and seems quite equal in both ears, I have tested it a number of ways including dial tone.  I have no trouble hearing quiet sounds, or consonants, or high pitched sounds.  I do have mild tinnitus, but that is a long term issue and is unchanged.  I also have a longstanding mild vertigo issue which is the result of vestibular neuritis a year or so ago, but that too is unchanged.  The only issue seems to be this slight distortion.

My wife insists it's an anxiety/OCD/hyperacusis issue (I do have these for sure) and that my perception that something is off is the result of focusing on it.  While I don't discount the possibility, it would help to know whether this correlates with any known "physical" cause.  As mentioned, internet searches don't seem to come up with anything on point.  So if you have any thoughts, or (hopefully) reassurance, I would be thankful.


Your symptoms do not have a strong correlation to each other which makes it hard to determine a specific reason.  Your own voice as well as "certain sounds (vowels primarily)" and "hold my hand over my ear" type situations would suggest some type of Eustachian tube involvement.  Maybe a little allergy inflammation causing you to be stopped up.  However, trouble with "women's and children's voices" and "voices on television" do not lend to this diagnosis of allergy problems.  
Soooo.....unfortunately, I do not have a clear reason either, for the combination of the symptoms you are experiencing.  The best I could recommend is to see an audiologist (which you may have already done) and have your hearing completely tested and make sure everything is good.  If it all looks good, then I would just assume it is your perception of sound that is fluctuating.  Not a completely crazy notion....medication and stress can change the way we perceive sound.  For example, some medications make us more hypersensitive to sound.  You might discuss with your pharmacist any medications you are taking.

Thank you for your question and I hope you obtain relief soon.  
Kelley Linton, AuD  

Deafness/Hearing Impairment

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Dr. Kelley Linton


I'm an audiologist in private practice in Arkansas. I graduated from the University of Florida medical school. I specialize in hearing loss; hearing rehabilitation; hearing aids; noise induced hearing loss; occupational noise exposure; OSHA guidelines and regulations; hearing protection; tinnitis; newborn hearing testing; children and hearing loss and diagnosis and etiology of hearing loss.


I've been a practicing audiologist for 20 years and have owned a private practice for 14 years. I am also an audiologist in the United States Army where I teach DOD hearing conservation regulations and manage 3000 DOD employees at an army industrial facility.

Arkansas Academy of Audiology American Academy of Audiology Academy of Doctors of Audiology American Speech and Hearing Association National Hearing Conservation Association

Journal of the Academy of Audiology Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Arkansas Press Argus Courier, Van Buren, Arkansas

Au.D. - Doctor of Audiology, University of Florida American Academy of Audiology fellow member Audiology Board Certification American Speech and Hearing Association certification Arkansas State Audiology license-current CPT United States Army Medical Corps

Awards and Honors
American Speech and Hearing Association "ACE" award x 7 years United States Army Accommodation Award Arkansas Academy of Audiology elected board of director x 3 years Better community award, Fort Smith, AR for volunteer audiology service to free community health clinic

Past/Present Clients
Serving newborn to geriatric ages.....unable to provide specific names.

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