Acoustic trauma causing eustachian tube dysfunction.


I’ve decided to start this thread from a post originally started over at, as there doesn’t seem to be much discussion about this particular topic.

Acoustic trauma causing ETD is something I've been trying to understand since 2013, after a noise trauma from a car accident (most likely the sudden explosion from the airbag) has left me with the following symptoms:

— A blocked/full feeling (not 24 hours a day) which makes you want to pull your ear to let something out
— Warm fluid draining feeling (quite frequent and varies from a little to a lot)
— Popping sounds (at its worst it pops each time I chew/swallow)
— An unusual hot/cold sensation down the left side of my face, which I was told is likely related to some kind of nerve damage
— When the left ear feels pressurised I sometimes get an uncomfortable, dull pain in it

Having already had tinnitus/hyperacusis since 2000, I've now had ETD (or MED?) symptoms in my left ear ever since.

No doctors I've seen have been able to discuss, or even entertain, the relation between noise trauma and ETD symptoms, as I get the sense they don't understand it so they don't feel they can give any kind of professional opinion. I have tried things like nasal spray but I find this a really unpleasant thing to do, and I do seem to get relief from a very cheap hayfever medicine called Loratadine.

I've had an MRI scan with no sign of obvious physical causes. (But that's most likely because it only takes microscopic damage to affect your ears in this way)

It also seems to be much worse if you suffer from allergies, catarrh or sinusitus etc. - which unfortunately I do. (On a positive note my symptoms in Summer 2015 have been much better than Summer 2014 and I'm not even sure why yet — hopefully whatever it is is "healing", albeit very, very gradually.)

If anyone has found any really good ear specialists who know about this kind of thing (and don't just treat their patients as if they're making it up) I'd love to know about them. Although at this point I'm not really looking for treatments — I'd be very satisfied if a doctor could just give me some kind of definitive answers, and help me understand and clarify what's happened inside my ear and what exactly causes the symptoms.

  • Hi Ben.... Just reading your post from 3 years ago.... I've been suffering with almost identical symptoms combined with awful spells of dizziness in the last weeks after an acoustic trauma event last at the end of last year. Have things improved for you at all?

    The symptoms, whilst sometimes lesser individually are hugely debilitating and depressing when combined and at their worst. I've been to see 2 different ENT specialists and neither have been able to give me any advise on what's really going on or what I could do to try and make things better. Thanks, Greg 

  • Hi Mary- Jane

    How have you been? Are you feeling any better now?

    We would strongly recommend that you go back and discusses this pain and issue with your ENT doctor to see if there is anything they can prescribe to help with this. If you are no longer under the care of ENT, then please ask your GP for advice.

    please let us know who you get on.

    all the best
  • Hi Mary-Jane

    Thank you for your post.

    It is difficult to comment on individual cases as we do not have your full medical history nor medically trainned. I have forwarded your questions onto our In House Audiologist to able to reply as soon as possible.

    If you need anything else in the meantime, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 0808 808 0123.

    Thank you for your patience

    All the best
  • Hi Ben
    Hi Vicky

    I've had acoustic trauma to both my ears for 8 months now.

    My GP gave me a steroid nasal spray but that didn't work. Prednisolone was not given.

    I have the following in both ears-

    - tinnitus - high pitch
    - blocked ears
    - pain 24/7 - feel like pressure in my ear drums ( sometimes very mild sometimes excruciating which is mostly the case)
    - I can't go into any places that are noisey or
    loud as it hurts my ears even more - the pain will increase and the tinnitus will ramp up
    - I've tried popping my ears to unblock them
    and nothing

    I've had 2 ENT visits ( Ealing and Charing Cross) and on both occasions
    my pressure tests show nothing out of the ordinary. There also is no viable inflamation or fluid trapped. I also have no hearing loss.

    8 months in and I am desperate - the pain is so unbearable - I feel like my ears are about to burst.

    I need help and I dont know what else I can do? The pain is the biggest problem.Can you give me any help or advice ?

    thank you
  • Dear Ben,

    Thank you for your post.

    We have contacted our in house Audiology team who have replied with the following for you:

    The PDF link below explains the symptoms of Acoustic Shock as described by yourself and gives a very good explanation of the types of symptoms that those with Acoustic Shock suffer from. The blocked feeling the wanting to pop your ears and the facial pain, tinnitus and hyperacusis can all be a symptom of ASD. This is written by 2 audiologists who have specialised in looking at acoustic shock and gives some suggestions to the medical sector on how to manage and treat it as well as the array of symptoms you may expect with ASD.

    It is thought that the main cause of AS is excessive middle ear muscle contractions (stapedius and tensor tympani muscles- near the eardrum), in particular tensor tympani contractions, following exposure to a loud unexpected sound. While the stapedial reflex is an acoustic reflex triggered by high volume levels, the tensor tympani reflex is a startle and protective reflex with a variable threshold to sound, which can be reprogrammed downwards. Persistent or long term ASD symptoms are consistent with a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS). With TTTS, the tensor tympani muscle is spontaneously active, continually and rhythmically contracting and relaxing. This appears to cause a series of physiological reactions in the ear and near the ear.

    We hope this information is of help to you

    Kind regards

    Vicky on behalf of the Information Line