Ear pain, at what seems like low volume

Sanchito

Electromatic
May 11, 2022
14
Washington, DC
First off let me make clear I am going to the doctor for this -- but I also thought y'all might understand some of the nuances better.

I've been trying out a series of new amps, including the Monoprice 5W and Vox AC15 that I really like. And I've been trying them in a small room, just a few feet away from me. And long story short, my ears are starting to ring just a little.

In reaction, I moved everything to the far side of the room (like 15ft away), and bought a decibel meter (the cheapest one ... that Amazon suggested was actually accurate, so about $50), which suggests I'm rarely and barely touching 80db, mostly staying around 70. But it still kind of hurts when I'm playing, at least for short moments.

Does anybody have this problem or experience? Is there another dimension besides just decibels that I'm missing? Inaudible frequencies that are still doing damage? Another way I could make sure this is safe? Ear plugs obviously, but -- the meter says it's quieter than traffic noise! This has never been a problem before!

I have a series of overdrive pedals I play with, but they're not changing the volume. And for context, the amps are set at 8oclock on the dial, so basically as low as they get without being muffled.
 

Electrosynthesis

Gretschie
May 11, 2011
390
São Paulo
Hi, I once had a similar issue, when I had a cold or something, my ears became extra sensitive to noise. To the point I almost had to quit band rehearsal because my ears hurt. Yes, we were playing loud, but not louder than any other previous day. I have to agree with @Henry, you should stop until you get it sorted out. The risk is not worth it. Good luck! Tell us how it went.
 

Emergence

Gretschie
May 25, 2022
208
New York
Tinnitus is annoying but treatable. It’s a ringing in the ears brought on by long term exposure to high intensity sound like rock music, firearms, jet noise, construction noise and other such insults. Tinnitus is also common in people taking statin drugs like Lipitor. Bioflavonoids like ginkgo leaf can bring relief. CoQ10 and it’s more easily absorbed derivatives like Ubiquinol also help.

Tinnitus is annoying, not painful. There is no benign source of ear pain. It may be a bacterial infection like swimmer’s ear or something more serious like a perforation or pressure on a nerve. See an ear, nose, and throat specialist first if your insurance allows it. The ER or a doc in a box wouldn’t be my first choice. Good luck. I hope your ear pain turns out to be something easily treatable.
 

Pops

Electromatic
May 23, 2022
76
SC Midlands
My initial response above was not meant to be flippant. I apologize if it came across that way.

TInnitus (ringing) can be initiated by many factors other than noise exposure and medications. There are no pain receptors in the inner ear (cochlea) but there is a condition known as hyperacusis, where sounds can become intolerable. You should see an otologist, an ENT who specializes in ears and hearing, for further evaluation.
 

collama

Gretschie
Sep 4, 2017
122
Colorado
I have this somewhat chronically. See a doc and audiologist and get some GOOD earplugs. Foam earplugs are useless. I have custom molded ones with changeable filters. Those are pricey ($250), the ones from Earpeace and other brands are pretty good and more like $40. I also track volume but even at 70-80 db it can bother me. Everybody is different

Good luck.
 

Ricochet

Senior Gretsch-Talker
Nov 13, 2009
21,498
Monkey Island
Tinnitus can not be fixed unless it's caused by a wax blockage which is simple to remove. Symptoms can be subdued though. White noise helps to mask the inner noise. Airco, or that rain tape you never found a use for.

A couple of years ago I was plagued by Tinnitus (nights were the pits). The ear specialist told me Tinnitus acts up with higher stress levels. At the time I was also taking Statines which I stopped taking 2 years ago(the stuff is vile but another story). The tinnitus has since then almost disappeared. Reading about it now I'm starting to hear it in its full glory again. :-(
 

Sanchito

Electromatic
May 11, 2022
14
Washington, DC
Thank you all sincerely for the concern, and advice -- I do promise, I'm seeking professional help and, for the time being have ceased all use of amplification.

I'll update with what I'm told by the doc, but unless they're a musician themselves, I'm afraid they won't be able to tell me how to START playing again in a safe way, beyond fairly basic recommendations. Earplugs, cool -- I'll do that -- but I'm also concerned that I'm doing something particularly bad that I'm missing, since this is only recent, and only with these new (larger, yes) amps.

There's no percussion, it's just me -- do high/low frequencies have different effects? Are some amps better/worse for your ears ... for some reason I'm ignorant of that isn't just volume? (I've been reading what I can, too, but it all seems like the advice is just -- turn it down! Which I swear I've done.)

There may not be a super secret solution at all, it may have just been that I had my head too close to the speaker! But when I start up again -- which is the real goal, that I'm so worried about losing -- I want to make sure I'm doing it as safely as possible.
 

Jelly Roll Horton

Country Gent
Nov 10, 2017
1,899
Portland, OR
I’ve only been electrified since 2016, but right away in my first band I began to wear wax ear plugs I found in France (couldn’t find any in the US at that time. More available now, much more effective than any other kind). The ringing experienced in the first year dropped off, but recurs occasionally. Even though I didn’t have diagnosed tinnitus, I had damaged my hearing in that first year.
Interesting to note that some medications can trigger the ringing. I went through colonoscopy prep last week and the ringing showed up. Meds maybe? Gone the next day.
Anyway, my point is, wear good ear plugs or ear protection if you want to play really loud, even in practice, and especially in a small space. And don’t practice at high volume with headphones on! Tinnitus will not go away and can’t be cured. Ask Brian Setzer or Pete Townsend.
 

DougWheeler74

Synchromatic
Jul 10, 2019
642
NE Wisconsin, US
Going to the proper doctor is essential. You may need to see different ones. According to my audiologist if you experience ringing after an event (loud concert, machine noise, military service etc) you have damaged your ears. It can show up later as well. Loud noises in youth are cool to some but later in life issues can show up.

As for ear plugs there are many on the market that are made foe musicians. They cut the level but not the quality of the sound. For several years my audiologist had a booth at a local festival offering free hearing tests and various products such as ear plugs and custom in-ear monitors. The acoustic players, such as guitar, cello and violin, were interested while the rockers were not. They either didn't want to know or were too cool. (Young male syndrome?) :D

The sound crews really liked the ear plugs. Running sound for bands that changed every hour all day really got to them.

Hearing loss sucks and ringing is irritating. It sounds like you re on the right track by going the doc. Please let us know what the results are.
 

DasherF

Gretschie
Aug 28, 2020
244
25 miles SE of Rogers, Mn.
First off let me make clear I am going to the doctor for this -- but I also thought y'all might understand some of the nuances better.

I've been trying out a series of new amps, including the Monoprice 5W and Vox AC15 that I really like. And I've been trying them in a small room, just a few feet away from me. And long story short, my ears are starting to ring just a little.

In reaction, I moved everything to the far side of the room (like 15ft away), and bought a decibel meter (the cheapest one ... that Amazon suggested was actually accurate, so about $50), which suggests I'm rarely and barely touching 80db, mostly staying around 70. But it still kind of hurts when I'm playing, at least for short moments.

Does anybody have this problem or experience? Is there another dimension besides just decibels that I'm missing? Inaudible frequencies that are still doing damage? Another way I could make sure this is safe? Ear plugs obviously, but -- the meter says it's quieter than traffic noise! This has never been a problem before!

I have a series of overdrive pedals I play with, but they're not changing the volume. And for context, the amps are set at 8oclock on the dial, so basically as low as they get without being muffled.

Sanchio...my "like" means I appreciate your post...
At 69 (and a half-ish) I've been around auto racing, rock and roll, the yearly fireworks, loud jobs (ear protection near the end only because it was mandatory), and all things loud, all my life...yup, got that sizzlin' in my ears from what I consider was a culmination of all that 'n' more. I like my music loud for the feel, but is that all? I "hear" (pun intended) that when various jobs sprung for ear testing I was told my hearing was good for a person my age...
I have not been to a doctor for it...you do have my deepest respect for doing that..
I need to get a new doctor soon and that will be part of my agenda.
Thank you for your post!
 

Bertotti

Friend of Fred
Jul 20, 2017
9,137
South Dakota
Stop playing until it is checked out. I hear a million licit making noise in a tree 24/7, some times are worse than others. I have felt a odd sort of discomfort when I had an ear blockage of some sort. Get it checked? Are your ears blocked up at all? Sound pressure makes mine worse. Volume not so much. Odd?
 


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