Q. At night when I am stressed, I hear a low-pitched hum in my left ear. Why?

Answered by
Dr. Syed Tehmid
and medically reviewed by Dr. Preetha J
This is a premium question & answer published on Oct 16, 2020

Hi doctor,

I have a low-pitched hum in my left ear, which started five months back, at night when stressed, with no other symptoms. I started ear drops Ciprodex otic (Ciprofloxacin and Dexamethasone). I started oral medicines (APO - Amoxi Clav 875/125 mg), and I finished 14 tablets within 24 days. I also had a sudden spike in pain at night. The slight pain started appearing randomly throughout taking eardrops and oral medicines, and burping and yawning would hurt. My hearing is muffled, reduced to 80% of the original hearing. So I started new ear drops and stopped Ciprodex otic and oral antibiotics because symptoms are not alleviated. In-person ear examination with the family doctor said it might be a fungal infection. He prescribed Flumethasone Pivalate 0.02%, Clioquinol 1%, and Locacorton Vioform otic 0.02/1%). I then stopped the ear drops, because Locacorten is advised only to be used for ten days. Later on, a popping, crackling sound started, which lasted for three to four days and then stopped. As of this day, I did not take any medicines. My current symptoms are low hum, pain, muffled hearing, little nausea. Symptoms are worse when I am sleep-deprived or tired. I never had any balance problems or fever. I have footage of my eardrum where the ear canal is clear, but the eardrum has a white "cauliflower" look, right in the middle.



Welcome to

  • Where is the white cauliflower look? It appears to be a bulging blue mass behind an intact drum. It seems like a hemotympanum (attachment removed to protect patient identity).
  • Can you attach a different picture? It may be a camera settings giving it a different color.
  • Did anyone do an otoscopy?
  • Is this hum pulsatile?
  • Is it synchronous with your pulse?
  • Is there any other problem that maybe with voice or any nasal twang?
  • Is there any regurgitation of fluids?
  • Do you have any difficulty in swallowing?
  • Is your hearing worsening or static?
  • Did you have any head trauma?
  • Did you have any nasal bleeding?
  • Do you have any other conditions?
  • Are you taking any medication other than mentioned here?
  • Did you have a cold, running nose, or fever before this?

Hi doctor,

Thanks for responding.

I was able to film the inside of my ear with a small camera. I uploaded the videos. Please view it. Yes, the hum is pulsatile. I do not think it is synchronous with my pulse. The buzz becomes loud then quiet every two to three seconds. I do not have any problem with my voice. I do not have a nasal twang. I do not have regurgitation of fluids or difficulty swallowing. My hearing became worse since my symptoms started five months back, but it is no longer worsening. I had a head trauma a year before, and I was diagnosed with a mild concussion, but I recovered in two weeks. Yes, I have frequent nosebleeds in the winter when the weather is dry. I had a nose bleed eight months back, but I did not have a nosebleed recently. I do not have any other conditions. Sorry, I have a correction for what I said previously. Initially, I started oral medicines (Apo - Amox Clav 875/125 mg) - finished 28 tablets 24 days. I occasionally take Tylenol painkillers (Acetaminophen) for my ear pain so I can sleep at night. I had a cold eight months back and recently do not have a cold, running nose, or fever.



Welcome back to

Well, I saw the videos you have sent (attachment removed to protect patient identity). Your eardrum does not look normal. There is some bluish-red mass behind that drum. Either it is hemotympanum or a glomus tympanum or jugular. It could also be bullous myringitis but does not have that blister type of look. I would suggest you make a visit to an Ent Specialist and get evaluated for the same. He might order a CT (computed tomography) scan or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). And you will also need audiological evaluation. Ruling out the Glomus tumor is a must. Your symptoms of pulsatile tinnitus with hearing loss and look of the drum makes it a high possibility. Though it is more common in females, one would still like to rule it out.

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