ZocdocAnswersHow can I make my ears go back to normal?

Question

How can I make my ears go back to normal?

Went to a really loud concert last night and I think it damaged my ears! They are all muffled and feel blocked up. How do I unblock them? Will they go back to normal on their own or do I have to do something with a doctor?

Answer

In the future, of course, you should try to prevent this kind of acoustic trauma to your ears in the first place. The way that hearing works is sound waves come down the external ear canal and run into the ear drum (tympanic membrane). The bones of hearing (malleus, incus, stapes) are attached to the inner surface of the ear drum, and when it moves, they also move. The stapes has something called a footplate that sits on the oval window of the cochlea, when it moves, it creates a fluid wave (within the endolymph and perilymph of the cochlea) that causes deflection of little hair cells with nerves attached to them. When deflected, the hair cells send a nerve impulse (through the auditory nerve) to your brain which is how you interpret sound. When you listen to a loud noise, there are some innate protective mechanisms in the ear that resist damage. However if the acoustic insult is loud enough and is present for long enough, it can overcome the protective mechanisms within the ear and can cause permanent damage to the hair cells within the cochlea. There is no way for me to know how loud the concert was (decibel) or for how long you were exposed. I recommend that you go see an ENT (Ears Nose Throat) physician, and they will go through all this with you, plus do a good ear exam, and likely order an audiogram (hearing test) to see what kind of damage (if any) was done. I hope that this was informative and answers your question.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.