Family, Internal Medicine, General Medical Questions/Hearing issues

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First of all, thank you very much for volunteering your time to answer questions!
This is a somewhat tricky situation... I just need an honest opinion (I will not take it as concrete medical advice, I promise)
To start, I am a healthy 21 year old male.

Two months ago, I noticed that when I listen to music, everything seems SLIGHTLY (about 15 to 20%) shifted to the right. I thought it was my earbuds at first malfunctioning but quickly deduced that it was a hearing issue and not environmental.
During this early stage: No pain, no discomfort, a mild "muffled" or maybe clogged feeling and a bit of tinnitus.
Suspecting wax (had to have ears irrigated 3 times from 8th grade until now), I decided to quit using ear buds and began using my headphones.
I also used some wax softener and irrigated my ears myself.
After about 7 minutes of gental warm flushing, a small chunk of wax comes out.
But this did not bring relief that was noticeable, and I also heard a "thump" (like a drum membrane being struck) sound every time I took a footstep for a few days after that, but there was NO additional muffle sound.
A month later, it has not improved. I have been testing it every few days with a simple brown noise generator to see if my left ear's hearing is returning.
Not worse, and some days it may vary 5% either way, but definitely not better.
All frequencies remain quieter on the left. No distortion anywhere, just quieter.

I work as a tire technician (have been for a year) and I get exposed to loud noises, but not TOO loud and only for very brief periods. I am a musician and actively work with audio so I take care to keep my ears away from such noise.
I have, however, used tools that rapidly and quickly change the pressure around the tool user, and there have been times that I thought this has messed with my ear (though I can't recall a time that stood out as causing pain or immediate hearing loss... just brief discomfort).

My Eustachian tubes appear fine (I can pop both ears easily, no cold or sinus issues) HOWEVER, it takes a little more effort to pop my left ear than my right and it doesnt pop as much as the right.

During normal day-to-day activities, I can locate sounds just fine. No loss of fidelity or even anything noticeably different unless I listen REALLY close... only during headphone or music use is there a big issue... during the day, there's just that clogged and muffle feel.

and something else is that when I plug my ears with my index fingers (eliminating most outside noise), my voice and chewing also sounds 15 to 20% panned to the right, just like noise that I would hear outside (which makes me hope that this isnt sensorineural in nature... I dont see wy it would be).

So there it is. I have not irrigated my ear since that time and dont plan on it unless I end up going to a doctor soon.

I am really baffled by this. I dont have much money to go see specialists and doctors and appointments here and there. I also cant afford insurance, but I can go if I need to.

Is there anything that you may suspect, or anything you can ask to clarify what this may be?

I really appreciate your help!

Answer
First issue.... have you tried to get insurance.... the ACA---- ie obamacare is very affordable, but you only have today/tomorrow to apply...... do it online and go through it to the end..... you don't see your discount until you have put in all your income data, and you will be surprised how affordable it is.....

There are a lot of things you could have done to the ear.... tore the eardrum or just damaged it a little... either with the nose/wax or the cleaning process.   It would be easiest to have someone take a look at it that knows what to look for overall.   If there is no sinus congestion and the ears clear easily, then it probably isn't Eustachian.   

Look at insurance, and if this isn't resolving, get it looked at in a week or two.

With your music, you need those ears.

Family, Internal Medicine, General Medical Questions

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Robert Borucki

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I am an expert in Family Medicine and Emergency Medicine.

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I am trained and boarded in Family Medicine and have also worked extensively in emergency medicine for over 10 years.

BA in Natural Sciences; MD in 1986

www.mydoctor.com\borucki

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