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Julie  Stachowiak, Ph.D.

Multiple Sclerosis and Hearing Problems

By July 19, 2011

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Hearing problems, such as sudden hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), CAN be symptoms of multiple sclerosis - even though you may have to work to convince your neurologist of this.

I have put together an article on this subject, although it was hard to find information on this in the medical literature. Read the full article: Hearing Problems and Multiple Sclerosis.

Now I ask the real experts - you. Have you ever experienced any hearing-related symptoms? What was it like? How fast did they come on? What did your doctor say? How long did they last? Tell us your story in the comment section below.

Comments
July 20, 2011 at 11:50 am
(1) Roxanne says:

Yes, I have twice now I have gone completly deaf. It was like the whole world went “Whoooooosh” and then it was silent, that lasted about 5 minutes both times. The doc said it was a pseudo attack but MRI showed new leasons so, well, who knows. I also have episodes with extensive ringing and long whining sounds then loss of hearing on one or the other side. My mother has minears (sp?) disease which is a nerve disease that causes deafness usually on one side, but the docs said that’s not what I have, it is the MS messing with me yet again.

August 19, 2011 at 8:19 am
(2) Anita says:

I have the same symtoms. I have MS and Menieres’ disease, as your mother does. The MS sometimes can sometimes set off the Menieres’. The way I can tell if it is Menieres’ or ms is, ms throws my balance off, Menieres causes me to be dizzy and severe vertigo. The ms and Menieres can cause loss of hearing. I found one of the best ent’s I could and he found the menieres. Maybe this will help…

July 20, 2011 at 11:53 am
(3) Sheri Collins says:

Julie, I have yet to get a confirmed diagnosis; however, your article popped up and I felt the need to comment. I have a horrible feeling in my ears and my hearing itself has diminished, especially in the right ear. I can tell my hearing is not as sharp as it use to be and my family and co-workers see it too. The pain in my ears goes back to at least 2001 when I would wake during the night with a sharp pain in my ears, a tugging, burning sensation. I thought I was sticking my ring in my ear at night — you know, to cause the pain. Now, I get it every day — during the day too, not just at night. Feels like a knife or someone feverishly tugging on it.

I have fibro so every ache, twinge that I feel I associate it with that diagnosis. The constant floater in my eye has been dismissed too and the horrible back pain and recent increase in pain in my neck is associated with nothing but arthritis. I need and want a diagnosis of something so that I can begin to treat whatever it is so I can start feeling better. I am 43 and have been dealing with this nonsense for almost 11 years now.

July 20, 2011 at 4:31 pm
(4) Dori says:

Sheri..I can relate to your situation completely. As a matter of fact, only now am I too getting the sharp stabbing pains in my ears. Even though I have brain lesions, and 2 recorded episodes, I am not diagnosed with MS yet. But I too am suffering with controlling my fibromyalgia at this point after being in control for years. A switch in my anti-depression meds have helped and soon I am going to a pain management clinic which I am unsure of. My best to you Sheri :)

July 20, 2011 at 11:55 am
(5) Debbie says:

I have had ringing or buzzing in my ears for a number of years. I have been checked out by an allergist and an ENT. No one has been able to find a cause and it never goes away.

July 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm
(6) debbie says:

Hi Deb:

I know how you feel. I have MS. There is ringing in my left ear. How about you. Is your loud. Mine is not. I just wish it would go away. I know how you feel.

Deb

July 20, 2011 at 12:15 pm
(7) Cheri says:

I have a recurrent problem that is difficult to describe. A muffled thumping that feels like a spasm in my ear drum. Extremely annoying. I told my useless neurologist and he wanted to send me to an ENT specialist. No matter what my problem is that is his solution, to send me to a specialist. I never bothered to tell him that he is my specialist. I have an appointment with a different neurologist coming up.

July 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm
(8) jensequitur says:

Hey, Cheri – I have that, and it’s called palatal myoclonus. Your soft palate is twitching and causing your ear drum to thump. It was driving me crazy. My neurologist has put me on Keppra, which is helping.

July 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm
(9) barbara haunton says:

jensequitur–Thank you.

I have no lesions but had several events, including lasting driving difficulties, leg pain and fatigue which began together at eighteen. Had trigeminal neuralgia, two-year short term memory loss with disorientation, etc.

Around the time a new left-leaning walking problem began last year, I started hearing intermittent, low thumping sounds. Blank expression from my MS-savvy internist. I haven’t mentioned it to my neurolgist yet, but it would probably meet with the near-indifference I’ve received since my scan came back clear. A back problem?–What?

Why can’t physicians acknowledge an MS-related condition and recommend physical therapy and whatever helps the patient? (I am getting the PT for back-related symptoms, but it’ll work just fine for my tight muscles anyway.) Doctors seem afraid to treat outside of the strict perameters of their fellow MD’s, even when a patient is suffering.

July 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm
(10) Joanne says:

I am diagnosed with CIS and when I was going through my attack and even today, very infrequently, I will get ringing in ear that lasts seconds. It was more prominent while I was in my attack. The ear specialist dismissed it.

July 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm
(11) Carla says:

I get loud ringing (but it sounds more like a high pitched whine) in my ears from time to time. It can last from a minute or two to a few hours. Lately my boss has been conplaining that I don’t hear very well. My fiancee’ has said this as well. I figure if I ignore the both of them, it won’t be true (c;

I am also EXTREMELY noise sensitive. Can’t deal with it at all and loud bangs send lightening bolts through my entire body. I can’t even describe what it feels like when emergency vehicles whoosh past me on the road, sirens blazing…ugh, it isn’t pretty.

July 20, 2011 at 6:37 pm
(12) TB says:

I am so glad to hear (no pun intended) that my sensitivity to noise may NOT be just my imagination. Loud noises don’t just hurt my ears but they hurt ME! There are certain times that I’m more sensitive than others, so much so that even the slightly-louder-than-the-show TV commercials are unbearable.

July 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm
(13) jensequitur says:

Hey, Carla and TB –

I have had either a hypersensitivity to sound, or an exaggerated startle reflex. Maybe both!

When I’m tired, noises make me jump. Doesn’t even have to be a loud noise – once I was playing Scrabble and the noise of the tiles on the little stand was making me wince.

I also have a sensitivity to certain types of noise, or at least I did. Noises like the pepper grinder, or chewing sounds, and especially the CLANG of the trash can would feel like a blow to the head.

I know that the exaggerated startle reflex goes along with the palatal myoclonus, which I also have (it’s a muffled thumping in your ear.) I understand that it’s caused by lesions in the brainstem – I have one in the pons, and another in the medulla.

The hypersensitivity is usually called ‘hyperacusis.’

August 17, 2011 at 1:51 pm
(14) Joni says:

When I am in an “episode”, I am very sensitive to tv commercials also, they startle me, and so does a ringing phone.

July 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm
(15) Sharon says:

I also have had odd ear situations. It usually starts with a high pitched ring and then loss of hearing for a very short time. It only happens on one side. I have tried to explain this to my doctors but I don’t think is indicative of anything they are aware of. I had this for many years before my MS diagnosis – as we all have come to know, it is just part of the a complex maze of symptoms I call the “MS syndrome”.
It always makes me feel better when I hear others give voice to symptoms I am experiencing. Symptoms those who don’t have MS don’t “get”.
H

July 20, 2011 at 12:36 pm
(16) DWesty says:

I have recently had a major bout with ringing in my ears. I mainly get it at night before I go to bed. Just another “fun” symptom to add to this God awful condition

July 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm
(17) Kathryn Bauch says:

I’ve had ringing for years, and at times a sudden hearing loss that’s lasted less than a minute. After having tubes put into my ears, they started bleeding, something common to adults. I went to another Dr. hoping he could remedy the problem. Unknown to me, he was a neurological surgeon of the ear. He ordered a C-Scan of my ears and brain to make sure that the mechanics of my ears were working. I also had a hearing test which revealed I had a hearing loss in the high frequencies. Although my ears were fine mechanically, he explained that my ringing or whooshing sound is caused by hearing loss due to damage of the ear nerves. He also explained if you have lesions on your brain leading to the ears, that certainly could explain the ringing or hearing loss as well. Each tiny section of your cochlea has about 20,000 nerves which die when the hearing is damaged. He reviewed my MRI with me, picture by picture, telling me how each part of the brain functioned, and what it was responsible for. Something no Doctor has EVER done for me! He is an exceptional Dr and person! I think if you have prolonged hearing loss and want to get to the bottom of it, you need to see an ear doctor specializing in the neurology of the ear and ask for a C-Scan. My doctor also specialized in balance and dizziness problems, which would be another way of looking for a specialist. Hope this helps!

July 20, 2011 at 1:26 pm
(18) jensequitur says:

One of my first weird symptoms was a sudden buzzing warm sensation in my right ear. Hearing was muffled. It was like somebody had stuck a warm cotton-wrapped buzzing thing in my right ear. Very disconcerting, and it seemed to occupy my whole attention.

Since then I’ve had palatal myoclonus, buzzing in my ear, and tinnitis, as well as intermittent hearing loss. I’ve had it tested and there’s nothing wrong with my hearing – in fact, it’s better than normal.

I have lesions on my pons and medulla, so perhaps that’s the problem.

July 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm
(19) Cynthia says:

I’ve had ringing in my ears for years. The whoosing others have described just started a couple of years ago. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one. This site has helped me so much in understanding this wild ride MS has taken me on.

July 20, 2011 at 3:59 pm
(20) paul says:

i have had partial hearing loss in my right ear which was pretty bad….it came on gradually and lasted about 8 weeks with gradual recovery….the neurologist said it was just another MS relapse. when i held the telephone to that ear the voice was muffled and could hardly hear it! had to quickly throw the phone to the good ear.

July 20, 2011 at 4:39 pm
(21) Mike says:

I suspect MS but no dx and I don’t pursue it as it seems I can do just as well myself as the docs. Personal opinion so don’t follow my example. Oct 2007 went to bed hearing fine woke up got out of bed nearly killed myself from vertigo. Completely deaf in the left ear. GP found no reason and over a year’s time low frequency and some mid range hearing came back. Hearing test says “moderate to profound” hearing loss in that ear. It’s not improving and now and then I hear what sounds like a tiny bell in that ear.

July 20, 2011 at 5:03 pm
(22) Polly says:

When I was a kid my dad always left his clock radio on (tuned to an easy listening station). I thought he was weird on two counts. Later I noticed I always left my clock radio on (playing meditation CDs). I thought I was just as weird until my therapist made the connection that we both have tinnitus and this is how we dealt with it. I don’t know if my tinnitus is genetic or MS, but it appeared about the same time my fatigue…

July 21, 2011 at 4:32 am
(23) Raziya says:

One of the first symptoms after numbness, optic neuritis, bladder frequency, etc., was my gradual hearing loss. I first noticed it when I couldn’t hear my microwave’s going off sound which is high frequency and thought it was spoilt. But, later my mom could hear it and told me to get my hearing checked! This was in 1992 2 years before my actual diagnosis of MS. Well, it’s got steadily worse over the years and it’s still doing so. Now, I’m profoundly deaf in my right ear and just a little better in the left.

Fortunately, the doctors here (Kenya), are slightly more open about this and have reached the conclusion that MS is the culprit regarding my hearing loss.

In fact, there are certain sounds that I just cannot hear and have terrible problem with distinguishing consonant sounds. And it’s really terrible when trying to talk with somebody over the phone whom I can’t see and if they mumble.

In fact, this is one of the causes of my losing my job as a swimming teacher in a school.

July 21, 2011 at 6:52 am
(24) Gail Suggs says:

I have same problems with my right ear. It is like a washing machine. roar-roar-roar. so irritating! i have found that if I put my fingers on my neck with little pressure it releives it enough that i can hear. The doctors say don’t do that and I say What!!

July 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm
(25) Melissa says:

Mine isn’t ringing (but I have had the thumping before) but it is a hard weirdness to describe.

My inner ear feels like it is “glowing”….feels as if something warm is melting inside my ear……..

It happened for a long time as did other weird crap until I stopped taking Avonex and now I hardly have any weird symptoms…

Weird, huh? lol

July 22, 2011 at 5:47 pm
(26) SteveB says:

I started having troubles in 1986 and was finally diagnossed with MS in 1996. Severe hearing loss that begun as ringing in both my ears was one one of my multiple problems. The ear, nose & throat doctor said there was nothing wrong with my ears. It was a nerve problem. My former Nuero poo pooed the MS connection.
By the way there is also nothing wrong with my right eye I can’t see out of, my legs that don’t seem to work very well anymore, and my bladder that drugs do not help.

July 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm
(27) Donna says:

About two years ago I got ringing in my left ear.It then lost hearing I went to my doctor.He said to go to my MS DOCTOR.He asked what was wrong I told him he looked at my ear said mmm yes that was it. I said would it come back he said no and that was the end of it.

August 13, 2011 at 7:23 am
(28) Delonghi esam 3500 says:

Hello,
am 20 and have a rush for a month in my ear.
should I go to the doctor?

August 17, 2011 at 7:28 am
(29) Jeff says:

I totally lost hearing in my left ear back in March 2001 while on active duty in the military before I was diagnosed with MS…in addition to the hearing loss I began experiencing tinnitus and dizziness… I went to my primary-care doctor who treated me for an inner ear infection, and sent me to an ENT clinic, which confirmed the hearing loss and fitted me for a special set of hearing aids, nothing else! Within 2 months I regained about 80% of the hearing in my left ear, but the tinnitus and balance problems have persisted ever since…9/11 happened and I didn’t think of my problems…it wasn’t until I began experiencing fatigue, cognitive problems and coordination problems in later years that I pushed my new doctor for another ENT referral to find out what was damaged in my inner ear…only then did this ENT doctor order an MRI and told me my inner ear was fine, but I would need to see a neurologist to explain the other findings-demyelination. I got an official MS diagnosis in 2008 following more testing to rule out MS look-alikes. I have relocated frequently, and I am having trouble locating a neuro doc in/near GA who takes a holistic approach of meds/diet/exercise/psych to manage my MS…still looking…

August 17, 2011 at 1:38 pm
(30) carol c. says:

I was originally diagnosed with FMS back in 1985. Then, the neurologist decided to begin with brain scans and testing my cerebral spinal fluid. The brain scans showed a number of lesions and the cerebral spinal fluid showed proteins that were in the fluid and I had nerve tests which were positive for MS. I also have vertigo….which occurs with headaches. And I also get what feels like migraine headaches on a regular basis and it is one sided and that occurs with an earache that is brutal on that side.

I have refused all intravenous medications after reading all about them and I am taking multiple medications to relieve the pain, weakness, relax the musculoskeletal system along with two anti-depressants, one SSRI and an older tricyclic. Many doctors say this combination is better for me than just one or the other.

The attacks of vertigo are the worst…and I have found a wonderful chiropractor that has been my godsend for this.

Massage needs to be introduced as an alternative method of care very carefully and I would love to help others with this. If anyone is interested in getting a great massage, try to find someone who can give you a Swedish or Thai Yoga massage …and make sure they understand the ramifications of “too much” massage for an MS body.

If you go to a chiropractor, have a therapeutic massage followed by an adjustment, it does a great deal of good. Just make sure they know you have MS. As we live with our pains on a daily basis, our weak limbs, tremors, etc., you need to learn whatever you can about MS and most importantly, how the nervous system functions. And, this is a chiropractor’s or a DO’s specialty as well as a neurologist. An understanding DC or DO can go a long way to feeling better and coping with many systems. In addition, a DO can also prescribe the exact same medications that an MD can.

Hope this helps someone who may read it. Take care and please try to have as pain free a day as possible.

December 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm
(31) rick migel says:

I have had tenninitus since 1968. I was working nite shift on a summer job in a mine using air equipment at the time. My ear specialist said I had damaged my ears due to work in 1968. The condition started while I was awake. There was a crackling in my head when it started as it seemed to drift around. I have had this condition 24/7 ever since. It is very loud when I lay down. I went to a vascular surgeon in 2010 to have my ccsvi corrected in Alberta but I was denied treatment , of course. He wished me luck and told me no coffee and no booze. The best thing about ccsvi is that I am releived that I do not have an auto -immune disease, per say. It is a physical condition which may seem rediculous but it does provide an explanation for a lifetime of not playing with a full deck of cards. That is important.

May 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm
(32) TLDCA says:

Part 1: Almost two years ago, I suddenly came down with a very permanent dizziness and vertigo. It lessened a bit after two months and then slamed me with nystagmus, vertigo, loopy gait, and seeing things in motion but not getting to my brain what I was seeing–was like I was seeing things in motion with a flicker like an out of frame movie. This lasted 4 months. It then went away. My Neurologist refused to DX due to my lack of insurance. ENT said it was BPPV but none of the treatments he offered work.

My toes are numb most of the time–no diabetis–and the sensation seems to be slowly creeping up my legs. My calves are starting to feel like they are being lightly grasped by something. Itching is nuts. Itching is also creeping up the legs, no to lower rear thigh.

By December it was gone and has not been back. Has anyone experienced the strange vision? I still have the nystagmus though it only acts up in bright light.

May 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm
(33) TLDCA says:

Part 2
Newest symptom–right ear has a constant whoosh/motor-like noise. No ringing. Seems like I have a wad of wet cotton in the ear. I am a musician and when it first started, I was noticing every pitch I was hearing in that ear was a third lower than what I was hearing in my good, left ear. Also everything I heard in the left ear got to my brain a franction of a second after my left ear heard it. Very strange. Comes and goes. I had a break from it for the last couple weeks–not normal, but OK. Today it is terrible, but no pitch problems. Once again the ENT decided it was Menier’s coupled with the BBPV I had almost two years ago. I see from comments below that many have had similar hearing problems I am now having.

If a musician, has anyone had hearing issues where you have had “slow” hearing and not hearing things at the correct in the affected ear? Secondly, has anyone had the vision problem where you would see things but it seemed to be in slow motion? The doctors think I am nuts on all counts–coupled with a neurologist who won’t diagnose “…maybe it is MS, but maybe you have a problem in the nerves in your neck causing the numb toes etc.” Yeah, right.

August 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm
(34) jerry says:

I don’t know what the heck is wrong with me I think I have ms I have symptoms of it. I didn’t know were symptoms until I looked them up if it was just one it’d be a coincidence but 2 is scary. Whenever I’m rightt about to goto sleep I loose my hearing I know this because I’ve done it and when I noticed it comes back that happen to anyone else. I also have moments of loud hearing everything is loud and lots of pains and spasms I guess.

August 26, 2012 at 11:43 am
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September 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm
(36) steve says:

hello everybody, Its 3 in the morning and i can not sleep,as I am up yet again with this painful wooshing and muffled shock in my ears, my name is steve I am 24 and was last year diagnosed with Ms as a result of a diagnosis of optic neuritis through an eye test, I thought i would google to try and find an answer as to what is going on as it is driving me mad, i was just literally laid in bed and this attack happened again, the best was i can describe it to you is, you know when you are laid in bed wide awake, those of you with ms will know what its like when you have got a constant burning spazam, and you are laid in bed and there is silence, i get an almighty POP in my left ear followed by a woosh like sensation that switches to an electric shock like feeling that feels like it travels from my left ear, through the inside of my head to my right ear and then a pop and its gone but at the same time my hearing feels like it is amplified and then suddenly muffled, i know i might not be making any sense but this is the only way to describe it, if anybody has anything they can comment on then i would be very great full i am not on the internet much but do check my emails through my phone any advice would be so welcomed so please write to me at stevepennington@ymail.com thank you for listening x steve :)

February 27, 2014 at 1:01 am
(37) Susan says:

I am set up to have a spinal tap to rule out M.S. Doctors keep mentioning MS.Had test 13 years ago to no prevail. Three years ago symptoms has drastically worsened. Went from 3 lesions to ten plus with in six months.(unspecified lesions) last week. Vitamin D and b12 low also. I was in bed eleven month out of 14 with fatique, nerve pain, spasm. Well I can go on. I lost my hearing twice in the last two years. I have start with pain like fireworks like in the certain of my head. Vomiting ect. Problem is I get this drum sound in the right quarter of my head. It vibrates my ear drum. I can’t even caus oe it makes noise louder. It has been extremely bad. Ent said it was neurological. Any ideas?

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