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Sudden tinnitus and muffled hearing, and no GP appointments

(38 Posts)
Midnightblue Wed 29-Mar-23 15:21:01

Just hoping some gns may have had the same problem.
I got sudden one sided tinnitus and muffled hearing two and a half weeks ago.

I left it for the first week, hoping it would go and trying ear drops and steam inhalations, though I’d not had a cold or sinusitis. It didn’t go after a week so rang for an appointment with a GP. The receptionist said the doctors were only seeing emergencies and complex conditions and could only make me an appointment with the practice’s clinical pharmacist, 5 days hence. This is a new thing, if a doctor wasn’t available, the excellent specialist practice nurse would ring to triage. Non urgent things were always seen within 5 days.

I made the appointment, but then looked on 111 site and did the algorithm, which advised to see a doctor the same day. I rang the surgery and relayed this to the receptionist, but she couldn’t give me any other appointment.

I saw the pharmacist yesterday and though she was very nice and looked in my ears for any sign of infection or wax ( there was none), All she could do was to pass on the information to the doctor. I told her the 111 advice and said I was worried about my long term hearing, but she said tinnitus is very common and it might never go.

She rang me back and GP had said to leave for things for 2 weeks and if it hasn’t gone he’d arrange a hearing test, though still without seeing me.

I rang 111 again and the advice was still to see a doctor the same day. I was given a number for the rapid access GP, but though I hung on, I gave up after 30 minutes.

Has anyone else had sudden tinnitus and muffled hearing and what happened?

Just to say I think pharmacists are a great idea for a practice, but only for medication problems and minor and easy to identify medical conditions. They are not diagnostitions.

MiniMoon Wed 29-Mar-23 16:17:33

If there is nothing wrong with your outer ear, do you think a hearing test with someone like Specsacers might be beneficial. The test is performed by a trained audiologist. That being said, I have no idea how long it would take to get an appointment.
It's something I'm thinking of doing myself.

MiniMoon Wed 29-Mar-23 16:18:51

Meant to say I have constant tinnitus which was gradual onset, and my hearing isn't as sharp as it used to be.

Midnightblue Wed 29-Mar-23 20:34:41

Hi Minimoon, thanks for the reply. I’ve made an appointment at a local hearing centre for next week, so I’ll see what that brings.

welbeck Wed 29-Mar-23 22:34:28

? go to a walk-in centre ?
or try 111 again. you have to hold on, be comfortably seated while you wait.
if i were you, i'd want it seen by a doc.

Midnightblue Thu 30-Mar-23 08:06:30

I’d still like to see a doctor, but do drs have this etiquette thing where they don’t like to override each?

MattDanNana Sat 01-Apr-23 11:10:44

Thus happened to me in February, I was petrified I was going deaf. I tried Otex and olive oil drops, did get GP appointment eventually. She said let's treat it as an infection and gave antibiotics. It lasted me the whole month and eventually cleared by itself. My advice would be carry on with olive oil drops.

MayBee70 Sat 01-Apr-23 11:19:10


I’d still like to see a doctor, but do drs have this etiquette thing where they don’t like to override each?

When I worked at a surgery if anyone wasn’t happy after seeing a doctor I’d advise them to see another. The doctors never minded. It’s everyone’s right to have a second opinion. Some doctors are better at recognising certain conditions than others. When I developed pulsative tinnitus I had a hearing test right away, I think it’s why I’ve got into the habit of listening to podcasts or meditation music during the night.

fancythat Sat 01-Apr-23 11:22:08

And some doctors specalise more in one area than another? And have different interests in some medical aspects?

Our Gp surgery lists the doctors and which area they like/are most interested in.

Dixieblue Sat 01-Apr-23 11:23:17

I have had tinnitus for years now. It started with reduced hearing in one ear (I thought my phone was playing up) then terrible distortion which made voices sound synthesised. My doctor referred me for a hearing test and ct scan. No obvious cause was identified. Now I have regained most of the hearing but have constant hissing. I’ve learned to live with it now.

4allweknow Sat 01-Apr-23 11:26:05

I had shingles (again!) vety recently. Nerves in face affected. Saw GP, he checked my ears as I thought one was blocked, hearing dull, and I had this throbbing pulse in my ear. Ears clear.
Nerves affected were irritated and I had pulsating tetanus. Still have it, really really irritating especially when lying down as noise seems to be even stronger. GP said it may go, eventually. Still have a bit of dull feeling in ear. Being positive that with only one ear affected it will improve. Hope yours does too Midnightblue. Have to say strange system at your GP.

Marjgran Sat 01-Apr-23 12:37:21

Sudden hearing loss in one ear is not “tinnitus”. The best treatment is a rapid dose of steroids as the most frequent cause is inflammation (as wax abs infection ruled out) and unless addressed almost immediately can lead to permanent hearing loss whereas rapid steroids can prevent this. 111 were correct. If you presented to our local Specsavers for a test and hearing loss in one ear detected they would send you straight to A&E but you need to act swiftly. It is a scandal that the GP doesn’t know this. I have been through this with a good friend and with a family member. Pack the sarnies, take a cushion and go to urgent care and show them the 111 advice

Theexwife Sat 01-Apr-23 13:04:09

I developed the same about a month ago, it never occurred to me that I should go to a doctor. The NHS site says it is common, rarely permanent and could take up to 6 months to clear.

grandtanteJE65 Sat 01-Apr-23 13:05:13

I haven't first hand experience, but the advice from 111 is what is usually given here, so I suggest you either persist in waiting in the phone queue, contact an Ear-Nose-and Throte specialist, or go to the Emergency ward of the nearest hospital.

As far as I know, it is important that treatment is started as soon as possible, so neither your GP nor his receptionist either has understood you correctly, or is up to their jobs.

Gundy Sat 01-Apr-23 13:49:00

I’ve had tinnitus for several years but it has not affected my hearing. It’s better some days than others, but it is my constant companion. Most of the time I don’t even notice it.

When the medical world discovers what causes it, and how to remedy it - right now there is no cure - it will be a medical break-through. Current treatments don’t really, effectively work.

I am not alarmed as I don’t pay much attention to it and just continue to carry on. It’s really not a nuisance for me, but I can understand where others may have it more severe. And when you do initially come down with it, you may feel like you’re losing your hearing.

MrsNemo Sat 01-Apr-23 14:21:33

Try not to be too alarmed by this; some years ago I abruptly lost all hearing in my left ear, apart from a slight buzzing noise. The cause was a miniscule particle of something, possibly a tiny flake of skin or similar, that had landed on my ear drum. The GP explained that this can cause temporary hearing loss until the particle moves. It did move, and hearing came back. Had it not done so I would have needed further investigation, so I hope your problem is equally temporary.

Luckygirl3 Sat 01-Apr-23 16:01:10

Hearing test app0intments at Specsavers come through quickly - try ringing them. It will not cost you anything because of your age.


luluaugust Sat 01-Apr-23 16:11:38

It may be the eustachian tube on the one side is blocked as in glue ear. In adults not a lot seems to be done about this but antihistamines sometimes help. It is very common.

Arto1s Sat 01-Apr-23 16:52:47

I have suffered from tinnitus for many years. It isn’t a loud ringing as some have, but a constant whirring sound. I was told to teach myself to ignore it, and actually, most of the time, this does work. When I am in a very quiet situation it is at its most noticeable, but even then, I am usually able to deal with it. Hope this helps, because as far as I am aware, there is no definitive cure for tinnitus.

effalump Sat 01-Apr-23 17:05:01

I get the occasional whining noise in one ear or the other. Some say it's because the earth is ascending from 3rd dimension to 5th dimension and the schumann resonance can cause all sorts of feeling.
If I get tinnitus, I just use first two fingers and do a rhythmic tapping on the occupital bone on the side of the tinnitus. Always stops it.

Dianehillbilly1957 Sat 01-Apr-23 17:32:46

I had this a few years ago and again since then. Both times it cleared up on its own. Hopefully it will for you.

Mirren Sat 01-Apr-23 18:08:23

I'm a doctor. Sudden , unilateral deafness with or without tinnitus , in the absence of wax or infection is an emergency.
It will probably just turn out to be Menieres but it does need proper investigation.

rocketstop Sat 01-Apr-23 19:10:41

I have Tinnitus in both ears since covid/long covid..Have you had a recent infection ?

GANNET Sat 01-Apr-23 19:33:52

I had tinnitus in my left ear start suddenly. My GP referred me for an MRI - thankfully all fine. After that tinnitus started in my other ear. I had an awful time adjusting to it and it is definitely worse with stress and some medications. You have to learn to live with it and playing white noise at night is helpful. I am just grateful I am able to mostly ignore it now.

win Sat 01-Apr-23 21:19:45

I too have Tinnitus and have had it for years, mine is very loud with bells ringing or piano music constantly the same tune. I only hear it at night when i take my hearing aids out, but it often stops me from sleeping. It is particularly bad if I am stressed or have been over stimulated with a lot of noise during the day. I recently had anMRI scan as there is a big difference between my 2 ears, but all is well. I only have 8 letter I can hear clearly the rest could be anything and I often have the most wonderful conversations with people. Not. I hope Specsavers refer you to the doctor if they are worried about your hearing loss, it is important to get to the bottom of anything to do with hearing or sight. It is not normal to have sudden hearing loss unless you have some form of infection that will probably need treating and hopefully respond well. You can feel awfully isolated with a severe hearing loss