Hearing Loss

How bad is my hearing loss from this current struggle with an inner ear infection?

Pretty severe.

This is day five and there has not been any noticeable improvement in my hearing. The pressure in the right ear has subsided and I am no longer taking ibuprofen to relieve that pain. However, the right ear continues to be plugged.

Without a reference point, it was hard for me to know the current state and whether things were improving. I was using ToneTester to assess pitch consistency. And certainly below 200 Hz I am anywhere from a semitone to two semitones off side-to-side. But I needed a better testing platform to assess the hearing loss. And hopefully map the recovery.

I went into the studio and created a series of test tones: 200 Hz, 500 Hz, 1 KHz, 2.5 KHz and 5 KHz. All tones were created as sine waves referenced at -20dB from unity gain. I auditioned the tracks using sound isolation headphones — these headphones cut external sound by -25 dB although it was 5:30am and things were pretty quiet around the house. Headphone volume control was set at 10 percent. Why ten percent? It produced a sound level that was roughly 75 dB at 1 KHz on my right ear. A comfortable sound level.

Tones were auditioned left side then right side. I adjusted the left faders down until I arrived at a qualitative level of balance side-to-side.

With the right side faders at unity gain, here were the results:

  • 200 Hz, down 18.8 dB
  • 500 Hz, down 24.6 dB
  • 1 KHz, down 26.0 dB
  • 2.5 KHz, down 21.2 dB
  • 5 KHz, down 19.8 dB

At roughly -20 dB difference in auditory perception, that amounts to .01 delta side-to-side or a factor of 100 times.

Gulp.

I can tell that surface rubbing behind the ear provides a consistent perception of sound left to right so I am hoping that it is simply a matter of time for the fluid to drain on the right side.

The past several days have been difficult and challenging. I hope that recovery comes soon. I am spending the next 12 hours or so on a tech crew for sound and multimedia. Fortunately I am not on sound for this event. But being anywhere around sound is really, really tough. More so when the ambient volume level goes up.

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