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Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders
Inner ear flutter
For the past two weeks my right ear has an occasional inner flutter and it affects my vision in the right eye to a lessor extent. I was wondering what that may be or what may cause this.
"inner ear flutter" is an unusual complaint that may be difficult to address in this forum. Often people with tinnitus - noises heard in the ear or head - will describe a wide variety of sounds. "Ringing, buzzing, whooshing, rushing, crickets, humming, pulsing" are all fairly common descriptions given by patients with tinnitus. "fluttering" is somewhat unusual. If the fluttering is a "sound", then it may be due to any of a number of different causes. as an example, dysfunction of the eustachian tube (the tube that connects the middle ear space to the nasopahrynx) can cause variations in middle ear pressure - similar to the sensation people notice when flying in an airplane. Occasionally, patients will complain of popping or crackling type noises in the ear when they have eustachian tube dysfunction. It is not clear if the "fluttering" falls into this category. However, the association of eye/vision symptoms along with this fluttering symptom warrants further evaluation. A logical starting place would be to see an otolaryngologist and ophthalmologist. Try to make note of when you notice these symptoms and if there are any precipitating causes. Also note if there are particular times during the day when this happens, how long the symptoms last, and if anything makes it go away. I would also be interested in knowing if you have any other medical problems that this might be part of and if you are taking any medications.
Vague symptoms such as an inner ear flutter are often difficult to accurately diagnose and would likely require a full history and physical examination, a baseline audiogram (hearing test) and perhaps some sort of imaging study depending upon what the exam and hearing test showed.
Best of Luck.
Daniel Choo, MD
Associate Professor and Director, Division of Otology/Neurotology
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati