Sinusitis vs. Ménière's

Alright, so:

  1. I’m not generally one to start a new thread and
  2. even less likely to ask for aid in diagnosing online

But I’m currently waiting to hear back from a doctor’s office to see if they’ll make an exception to take me on (despite being full up on patients), and I’d rather run the risk of encouraging alarmist takes in opening up a dialogue among fellow musicians than continue to sit in silence.

About 2 weeks ago I decided to do a bit of a remodel (along with a complete recabling of the studio) in prep to receive a new interface. This involved a fair amount of drilling, vacuuming, dusting, and while I wore a mask (and ear plugs) for the most of it, the week ended with my right ear feeling a need to pop but wouldn’t.

First thing I did was to break out the ear irrigation gear (larger syringe + IV-drip noodle + peroxide + warm water), and flush both canals. This removed a fair bit of wax, but the issue persisted.

IME, the effect of wax-buildup has always resembled that of a heavily sloped low-pass filter, and that’s not at all what I’m experiencing. What I’m experiencing is much closer to that of an asymmetric elevation shift (pressure + faint-ringing around 6K-ish + attenuated lows). A few google searches would seem to suggest that the phrase for this is “aural fullness”.

Over the course of this last week, the effect has oscillated between less noticeable and very noticeable: Typically most profound in the mornings (apparently due to a cortisol low), and least profound in the evenings.

Yesterday was the first evening I felt ok enough to muck about with the Elektrons, and I went to bed feeling good.

Today has been probably the most profound it’s been since the onset. I spoke with an ex-professor of mine on the subject, and he’s convinced it’s a bout of sinusitis and suggested grabbing some Flonase and Sudafed — both of which I acquired around 8 hours ago. I’ve since taken two doses of Sudafed (8 hours and then 2 hours ago) and a single dose of Flonase (4 hours ago) and things are by and large the same.

I’d be curious to know if anyone’s had similar experiences or additional thoughts on these matters.

My apologies for the length; thanks for listening.

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try a neti pot


i was diagnosed w/meniere’s 10+ years ago. no hearing loss, intermittent tinnitus and ringing and other onsets of various symptoms like fullness, vertigo, loss of balance, brain fog etc…

it was a long road to get diagnosed. neurologists, hearing specialists etc. had hearing tests and the vertigo test VNG or whatever it’s called which is not fun but they can more or less conclusively diagnose that way.

there’s various symptoms and not everyone gets all of them and many people don’t get them so severely as others. my symptoms are typically not bad and i can anticipate attacks often. sometimes i have to go lay down and be in a quiet dark room… take a low dose valium as a bandaid for symptoms.

for meniere’s attacks are often triggered by things like lot’s of sugar/salt/caffiene/alcohol. the fluid in your inner ear is sensitive to those things and again some people more sensitive than others.

exercise helps me a lot. change in barometric pressure is something that will usually make me feel pretty funky. i’m usually OK when flying. i don’t do boats anymore though.

if your symptoms persist then go see a doctor. could just be an ear infection or something else. ears can be weird. if you’re not having vertigo and balance issues it’s probably not meniere’s but like i say if you have persistent symptoms it’s worth going to see a doc to determine if it’s just a common head cold type of sinus thing or if you should go see a specialist. could just be allergies and barometric pressure change w/the change of seasons.

if you want to go deeper in the rabbit hole this subreddit has lot’s of info

here’s the wiki faq


@ponnuki — Thanks for the thought. <3

I’ll check a store sometime tomorrow. (Google searches are returning store bought methods more than home-brew methods.)

@ignatius — Really really appreciate this, man. I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but I’m glad to hear you’ve been able to manage it well enough. <3

Re: vertigo — I see this pop up a bit, but it’s felt a bit ambiguous as to what constitutes vertigo.

Like pain, I feel like we all have our own thresholds for what we’d consider dizzying. Tbh, the asymmetric nature of this state has certainly been disorienting, but idk if I’ve ever lost balance. Nor do I think I would fail to walk a straight line during an intoxication test, but maybe the disorientation is cause enough.

Re: the diet — This is something I’ll try and journal more thoroughly going forward. I know my diet for Friday and Saturday were not great: Family decided on pizza, Saturday.

Re: caffeine — Ah. I’ve been a heavy coffee drinker for the last 4 years. That’s gonna be the hardest thing to overcome should this pan out to be Meniere’s.

Re: head cold/ sinus-related — The thing I find peculiar is my nose hasn’t run much over the last week. Tbh, they’ve mostly been clear save for a few fleeting instances following a sneeze or meal.

A few more anecdotal thoughts:

  1. The reason I’m as startled by this development as I am is that this is unlike anything I’ve previously experienced. Would you mind sharing how you came to suspect and seek diagnosis?

  2. I know I read that Meniere’s generally follows hereditary lines/ is genetic in nature. Is that true in your case? I’m not sure I know of anyone in my family who’s dealt with this.

  3. Same day of the initial onset (8 days ago)/ during drilling, I faintly recall a low frequency rustle (kinda like an eardrum spasm) and maybe later, a tickle in the now affected ear. I’m not entirely sure what to make of that. I believe I’ve experienced the occasional low frequency rustle, in the past with no lasting effect.

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I was about to suggest this as well, but hesitated because I think neti pots are better used while you are not blocked/inflamed (directly after the dusty encounter may have helped).

I have had good and bad experiences, so use caution.

I’d also avoid very spicy foods (hot peppers/salsa) until it clears up. I find it to be an amplifier.

@vvilms, @ponnuki, @ignatius. I feel you.

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I hear you. Not sure how similar the effect is (I don’t believe I’ve ever neti-potted), but I did take a pretty warm/ leisure shower following the dust/ onset.

Ah ok, thanks for the heads up. I tend to lean into spice when I can, so I’ll be mindful and try and avoid it.

Likewise, good sir. :heart:

re: caffeine… i drink a cup every morning. but i also drink lot’s of water all day which i think helps. dehydration is a trigger for me. i don’t drink a lot of coffee… usually just the one cup… sometimes i’ll have 2. but it’s different for everyone. some people have a glass of wine and that will trigger a vertigo attack and they’ll be spinning for 12 hours laying in bed w/one foot on the floor. the symptoms people deal with vary a lot in severity. some people get a full on sea sick type of experience… others just get a little wobbly and some brain fog.

sometimes i’ll be standing up doing whatever… cooking or talking to someone and i’ll suddenly feel like i’ve been shoved and it’s just my meniere’s doing its thing. it’s pretty bizarre and distinct to other things…

my guess is if you aren’t experiencing real balance issues… like getting the spins… then you probably have some other issue going on. but do check w/a doc if your symptoms persist.

there is actually a situation where the vertigo is curable and it’s not meniere’s. the little crystals in your ear can become dislodged and this causes all kinds of symptoms like vertigo. there is a head tilt process that can be done to shake the crystals loose and this fixes the problem. this is something that isn’t meniere’s… it’s a totally other thing. the first i heard about it i was hoping it’d be my diagnosis… because it can be fixed easily. i also thought it was some hippie new age bullshit but no… there’s tiny crystals in our ears.

the condition is called BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo)


I suppose I struggle in not having a point of reference for what “getting the spins” means, but nothing of what I’ve experienced so far has been terribly abrupt. The initial onset was a bit of a crawl rather than an immediate state shift.

Yesterday is probably the closest I’ve felt to what I’d consider vertigo, but I could still walk into a straight line. Today has been a bit less pronounced.

I’m so sorry, man; that doesn’t sound fun at all. :heart:

I made sure to drink quite a lot of water today, and regardless if it’s linked or no, things have been a bit better. I really appreciate your sharing your experience in this.

Oh whoa. That’s pretty wild. Hmm. I always heard of the tiny hairs that lined the inner ear, but never crystals. That’s really interesting. Hmm.

the spins are like if you drank too much and lay down and the room is spinning or if you recall when you’re a kid and on a merry go round for a long time going as fast as possible then you get off and everything is wobbling and you fall over. that would be classic vertigo.

people also get more subtle types. like if you’ve been on a boat for a day and a half and you get off and it still feels like you’re on the boat… motion of the ocean.

this sounds a lot like something ive had for the last 6-7 years, in my left ear- sensation of fullness/like it needs to pop (kind of like when it needs to ‘equalise’ on a plane journey), attenuation of the lower frequencies, ringing. also occasional autophony (i hate that i now know all these fancy words) which is where your voice can reverberate in your head/ear a bit when speaking. have never been able to pinpoint what brought it on as it wasnt sudden, and i thnk for a long time i left it as i assumed it was a wax thinng due to the full sensation, until i saw a doctor and they couldnt find wax. multiple miserable trips to docs/ENT’s etc (inc an MRI scan) and none of them could really work out what it was, but probably a eustachian tube dysfuntion. no cause given, tho extensive research of anecdotal stuff led me to a possibility that it was a reaction/damage cause by the propylene glycol element in the vape juice i was huffing at the time (tho never proven). ive had to learn to live with it, as miserable as that is, but i have good days and bad days. sometimes stress brings it on, tiredness, caffeine, salt/spice. other times those things dont trigger it, and sometimes it just happens. sometimes its all but unnoticable. not sure any of that is useful to you or anyone else reading but felt compelled to share my experience with this sort of thing. its a PITA, hope you get to resolve it


Did you go to see a doctor (or preferably a specialist) yet?

My 2c worth of experience:
Recently, I got swimmers ear (again). One ear 70% hearing loss and uncomfortable pressure. Other one also slightly affected. Went to see doc, irrigation (which I have had success with in the past, though sometimes requiring a lot of pressure to point of pain) didn’t work. Paid a lot for time taken. Told to buy chemist drops (the ones with hydrogen peroxide in oil). Used for 4 days. Became worse. Doc had said I needed go go back to get a reference for a specialist. Wasn’t convinced.

Proceeded to call a local specialist that does micro suction. Was a great experience for cleaning out ears, though the H-Peroxide drops made one ear much worse and harder to clean as the inside of the eardrum reacted to the chemicals and dissolved wax by starting to create a new layer of skin. All visible via a camera. Before and after. Cheaper as well. Point being, I will never try irrigation and drops again. Have been now told by two separate professional sources that a drop of olive oil or two (or in a small spray bottle) just as effective and no side effects. Irrigation also a bit risky regarding potential to damage ear drums.

Not sure if that’s your exact issue, but would probably be prudent to get a pro opinion and possibly a second one, before going down the ‘less direct’ paths.

I had that vertigo thing too for quite some time.
First I didn´t take it so seriously, but it got worse.

So I was checked by my doctor.
I had no problems with my ears at all,
so I tried the super healthy lifestyle and took a mild
medicine against vertigo.

First it got a little bit better, but it didnt go away.
At one point I had to quit a really well payed job.
The mean thing was that my balance was still perfect
but out of nothing I had the feeling I get unconcious anytime and go to the ground.

So finally I went to a specialist.
He could find a inflammation in my inner ear.
I had no pain at all, and the result of my hearing test
was excellent (better than an average teenager)

Long story short.
I got antibiotics and I was rid of it after 2 or 3 days.
The months before have been terrible, should not have waited that long.

good luck.

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Is that still the case? (that it won’t equalise or pop)

I had a problem last year where my right ear was completely blocked for 6 months. I just could not equalise or pop it at all. Very loud ringing in that ear as well.

You should definitely see a doctor and probably a ENT specialist (usually you need a reference from your doctor).

The specialist did a pressure test on my eardrum. This indicates whether there is a fluid buildup behind your eardrum. If there is, the next step might be to try and drain that.

I’m not sure what the test for Ménière’s entail, but they might also test for that.

In my case the pressure test was normal, so I did not have any fluid behind my eardrum.

Specialist suspected that it was my eustachian tube that is blocked, but said the operation to unblock that is highly risky (it is very thin, and can easily be damaged, and then you are screwed).

I managed to (mostly) unblock mine (I also suffer from sinusitis), and I can give you those details plus a bunch of other stuff I have found out since. My tinnitus is still there, though slightly better, and my ear had become sensitive to loud, even moderate sound.

But I think your first step is to see the doctor and specialist, and establish whether the problem is behind eardrum (fluid), or something else.

I was having a weird problem with my right ear for a couple of years. It seemed to happen seasonally. In the spring time, any time I got around air conditioning, certain noises would make static noise sound in my ear. I couldn’t figure out what it was, I have clients that were audiologist and they couldn’t figure out what was going on. Then I went to the dentist and had some dental work done. It all disappeared after that.

Strange seeing this thread appear today as I’ve been dealing with similar issues.
I’ve had ‘fullness’ and sensation of dulled hearing, occassional ringing, in my left ear since late last year. It will not pop at all, and I feel like one half of my head is under water. No wax buildup, no obvious signs of infection looking at the ear drum (which is shiny rather than dull, apparently). I’ve been referred to an ENT specialist but don’t have an appointment yet. I also have sinusitus type symptoms but that doesn’t appear to be a typical bacterial infection and has been going on for a couple of months too.
I’d be interested to know what you found helped to unblock your ear, aloud. It’s driving me slightly crazy.

So I had been prescribed a few things by the doctor: drops that you put down your nose (with your head back), drops that you put in the ear from the outside, even antibiotics in case there was some infection. None of those helped, even multiple courses of the drops.

I also tried rinsing with salt water (both neti pot with a salt solution and you get a spray you can buy at pharmacy), every day for weeks. Nothing.

In the end, Halls Extra Strong opened it! I mean, it could’ve been a coincidence, but basically I sucked a whole bunch of it one night, and the next day, for the first time in 6 months I could equalise. It wasn’t perfect, my ear/eustachian tube would sometimes sound and feel almost like it’s sticky, but it was letting air through…

I don’t know where you live, but Halls is a strong menthol sweet, sold for its ‘clearing action’.

It kind of feels like I’m trying to sell snake oil, but it worked for me, ymmv

Well that is an affordable option that is worth trying! I am in the UK so Halls are not hard to come by. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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Let me know if it works for you. If I’m not the only one, I wouldn’t feel so silly sharing it with others :joy:

I knew a girl in college that had a bad ear ache that wouldn’t go away. Her ear was in agonizing pain… when she went to the Dr. they found that a small roach and crawled in her ear and died. they were able to get it all out eventually, but holy crap… I slept with ear plugs in for a while after that.