ZocdocAnswersMy left ear has been ringing for the past week. What should I do?

Question

My left ear has been ringing for the past week. What should I do?

I am an 18-year-old female. I work at hot topic and i have a problem. My left ear has been ringing since last Monday and I don't know why. It is also harder for me to hear in my left ear than my right ear. I don't listen to very loud music and I am hardly in loud environments. Am I going deaf in my left ear?

Answer

I would strongly recommend seeing your doctor. This requires evaluation. While there are many causes of transient or passing ringing in the ear, there are some causes that can lead permanent hearing loss. Your primary doctor can help you with this. In addition, an Ear Nose Throat Doctor and an audiologist (a hearing specialist) can be helpful. Ringing in the ear is medically known as tinnitus. This is fairly common. We classify tinnitus into objective (where there is actually something in the ear like pulsing blood in an artery) or subjective (which is the sensation of ringing without any sound that can be picked up). Far and away, subjective tinnitus is more common that objective. By far, the most common cause of subjective tinnitus is damage to the auditory nerve -- the nerve responsible for hearing. This often occurs due to acoustic trauma -- listening to loud musci or using ear plugs. Often though this is bilateral (in both ears). The loss of hearing in the ear is also concerning. There are mechanical causes such as fluid in the ear or infection that should be evaluated. Also a ruptured ear drum can do this. Rarely a tumor in the nerve can cause this. There are some rare disease (for example Meniere's) that can also do this. See your doctor. This should be evaluated before permanent hearing loss.

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

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