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Rapid Elevation Decent and Sudden Onset of Tinnitus

Question:

My wife had a sudden onset of tinnitus while on a June, 2014 tram ride in Colorado in a rapid descent from 11,500 to 10,000 feet. It has been loud, screeching, 24/7 tinnitus since and she cannot sleep without zolpidem. We strongly suspect that her tinnitus was caused by some inner ear trauma (barotrauma?), a suspicion strengthened by her history of chemo and radiation therapy for breast cancer during 2009-10. All the experts we have spoken to thus far want either to treat TMJ (she doesn’t have this), do sound masking or give her Neurontin. Is it possible to find a solution to the core problem of barotrauma-induced tinnitus?

Answer:

Dear Mr. Stringham,

I’m so sorry for the difficulty you and your wife have had trying to get to the bottom of her tinnitus.
Her tinnitus was most definitely triggered by the decent, but here are most likely a combination of factors contributing to her chronic  tinnitus.  As soon as we find out which are in play, a solution for remediation can be developed. It would be best if she could come for a visit to our office so that we could better discern the underlying cause and contributing factors.  There are many treatments that may reduce her tinnitus, and it sounds like the sooner the better for your wife.
Call our office to see if there is an appointment soon that will work with your and your wife’s schedule.  I would definitely like you here as well if possible.
My best to you both,
Dr. Barbara Jenkins, AuD, BCABA