Fluctuating Hearing Loss with PMS

#1

I seem to be experiencing a strange phenomenon which I can’t find any information about, so I thought I’d ask here. As you can see from my audiogram below, I have a “good” ear and a “bad” ear. One of my more recent audiograms showed the hearing in my left ear to range between 15 and 20 dB in all frequencies, so, while not perfect, my “good” ear is actually testing within normal limits at times, which I’ve long suspected, but until recently, never actually had any proof of.

So here’s the problem. Every month for the last 6, I’ve been experiencing significantly muffled hearing in my left (better) ear for the 2-3 days prior to the start of menstruation. I’m wondering if anyone has ever heard of this? The dates correspond exactly within 2-3 days of the onset of my menstrual cycle every time. (This is probably TMI, but because I have irregular cycles, I keep an accurate record of start and end times.) Then, once my menses start, my hearing clears and I can, once again, understand conversation. But for those 2-3 days, I’m significantly hampered in communicating. Significantly!

I’ve googled this and found one article from 2002. Here’s the link: http://www.healthyhearing.com/content/faqs/Hearing-loss/Causes/30979-Fluctuating-hearing-with-menstruation It’s not a particularly helpful article in that there’s no scientific evidence…

It seems neither my GP or my ENT actually believe my experience is real. I’ve tried to book an appointment with my audi for times when I’m potentially having PMS, but because my cycles are irregular, we’ve missed both times, so there’s no “proof” to substantiate my claim.

So I’m wondering, has anyone ever heard of this? If so, what are some probable causes? I’ve tried significantly reducing salt intake with no improvement. Allergy testing has all come back negative. A head MRI showed nothing except enlarged vestibular aqueduct on the right side, with the left side being “grossly unremarkable”. CT scans of the sinuses and temporal bones were negative. I do not suffer from any chronic illnesses and exercise somewhat regularly. I’m not overweight or hypertensive. I have no idea how to deal with this. For 2-3 days each month, I can’t hear well at all. For the rest of the time, I have no difficulty communicating.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. And again, sorry if some of this is TMI, but I’m not sure where else to turn for advice.

Kerry

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#2

I did find this:
“Bilateral transient SNHL associated with the onset of menstruation has been reported in a patient. Treatment with diuretics perimenstrually led to improvement in the transient loss. The precise mechanism of action in this case remains unclear.”

Here’s an article, mostly about vertigo, but probably also applies to your situation: http://vestibular.org/sites/default/files/page_files/Hormones%20and%20Vestibular%20Disorders_0.pdf

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#3

By any chance are your GP and ENT both men? My wife works in the medical field and she firmly believes women’s health issues are often ignored, and when women report symptoms they are not believed. More than once her symptoms have been simply dismissed as stress related. I may sound cynical, but you may want to find a female doctor. Women’s bodies are significantly impacted by hormonal changes and it takes one to know one.

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#4

Mike, my GP is female, but my ENT is male. As a former Nurse Practitioner, I couldn’t agree more with your wife’s opinion, that women’s symptoms are often either ignored or diagnosed as being “psychosomatic” in nature. I should probably clarify that my doctor seems to believe me, but she has no idea what to do about this issue other than refer me back to my ENT, who has told me that what I’m describing “isn’t possible”. He’s wrong, because my experience very much means that it is possible! But one can’t easily argue with supposed “experts” in their field, even if one is (was) a fellow medical professional. (SIGH!) It’s so annoying. And it’s one of the many reasons I won’t likely pursue that line of work again when my children are older.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if I should pursue PhD research in the area of hearing loss. I now know a number of people with fluctuating hearing loss who have had Meniere’s disease, MS, and other brain/neurological/inner ear disorders ruled out. There seems to be a paucity of research in this area. But I guess that could be said for hearing loss in general. Recent research doesn’t seem to have brought many promising solutions for those with impaired hearing.

Thanks for the link, audiogal. I actually read that article late last night. It’s interesting. I wonder who I would need to ask in order to obtain a 3-4 day prescription for once-a-month diuretics? Indications for those medications don’t include “transient hearing loss secondary to PMS”. (I wonder why?!) And most doctors/NPs I know won’t go outside of the prescriptive boundaries.

Kerry

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#5

There are having many causes due to which the fluctuating hearing loss with PMS occurred, some times when a women is having the problem of hearing loss then it was happen due to the menstrual cycle, there are having several disorders like menorrhea, abnormal/excessive uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhea, and premenstrual syndrome has been noticed in the adolescent girl who is suffering from betinnitus. This problem will be normal at the time of postmenarchal, so don’t be scare due to it, continue your treatment for hearing loss and consult regularly with your physician.

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#6

I’m starting to see some of a connection to my own periods as well in regard to this!

Then again, I suffer from progressive bilateral hearing loss that is so far not diagnosed, but I do often get bouts of hearing loss shortly before my cycle. Just yesterday I lost a small chunk at very high and very low frequencies, and I thought that was due to getting nearly no sleep the day before and lifting a 15 lb suitcase of all things. But then my period started today so now I am very skeptical as to what has really happened.

I don’t remember what article I read or where to find it, but there seemed to be some connection between hormone fluctuations and the fluid controls of the inner ear. Something about hormones potentially setting off hydrops-like symptoms in one or both inner ear because of excessive fluid production, but I don’t precisely remember…However, the mention of that particular study where diuretics improved a patient’s outcome makes me think so a phenomenon is in fact going on.

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#7

I’m coming back to answer my own question a few years later. I’m now working with a Neurotologist and am in the process of becoming a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Otology. Having interviewed approximately 100 female patients since starting this position, I’m learning that fluctuations in hearing are very common in pregnant, perimenopausal, and newly menopausal women, which potentially does indicate a hormonal cause for these fluctuations, or perhaps a fluid-shift in the cochlea and vestibular aqueduct secondary to hormonal fluctuations. It seems there is very little research being done in this area. There is some speculation that fluctuations in estrogen are the cause of fluctuations in hearing in these particular groups, but there doesn’t seem to be much in terms of concrete information available. I recently read an article which stated HRT given post-menopausally seems to cause a statistically significant hearing loss in some women. But more research is needed.
In our clinic, I find that women who are on thyroid hormone seem to have generally worse hearing than their similar-aged counterparts who are not taking thyroid replacement therapy. Again, I base this assertion on my own patient cohort, not a formal study. When I asked the surgeon I work with about this, he didn’t seem very concerned. He did admit that it was an interesting finding and that there is some speculation that TSH levels do affect hearing; however,the exact mechanism for this isn’t known. Is it the TSH level that causes hearing loss, or is it a precursor to thyroid problems that then causes hearing loss once thyroid levels are out of range?
I’d love to do more research on this, but it seems there is none being done in Canada, or, if it is being done, it’s not well known at this point.

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