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Ear Infections and Hearing Loss

Last year, at this time, I was struggling through a difficult issue with tinnitus. Tinnitus is a ringing sound inside the head. Not fun. Last year, at this time, I was also struggling with a nasty flu.

This year I have endured another bout with the flu. Although the major symptoms have subsided, I am still working through an ear infection. Right side only. Not as severe as the tinnitus. But enough to be extremely bothersome.

I could tell my hearing was off. At first, I thought it was due to some exposure to loud sounds. I had been rehearsing in the studio with some other musicians last week and my right ear was in line with the drummer. However, the hearing was off just on the low frequency sounds, not on the high frequency sounds.

I use a tool on the Mac called ToneTester to check my hearing. The program generates tones for each ear, and lets you adjust the difference between the pitches. Normal hearing should perceive equal amplitude and pitch for both ears.

My right ear stays in pitch with my left ear until 220Hz. At that point, down until 55Hz, I am at least a tone to a tone and a half off consonance. This condition, known as “binaural diplacusis” or “interaural pitch difference” makes sound coming into my right ear higher than the same sound coming into my left ear. For example, if someone were to play a single key on a piano, it would sound to me as if they were playing two adjacent keys at the same time. And only below 220Hz. Nonetheless, for a musician, this is pretty extreme dissonance.

I am also off level, ear to ear, by 3 to 5 dB from the bottom end of my audio perception to 87Hz.

Hopefully I will be back to consonance shortly. I’ve endured enough issues with my hearing and for someone with a passion for audio, this type of condition is enough to make one mad.