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Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders

Anxiety or inner ear?

03/08/2006

Question:

last september i woke up feeling alittle off and just kinda detattched. the last couple days i had some of the worst anxiety attacks of my life...one leaving me very exausted and pale. i have a history of anxiety. i went to the doctor and they thought maybe inner ear infection. so they sent me to a hearing test and they said my hearing couldn`t be any more perfect.

then i did balance tests and turned out good. my balance never seems to be a problem. i can out balance anyone in my family.

i then did a test called eng. the results were good excpet for when they poured hot cold water into my ears. though i didn`t feel dizzy during the test later that night i felt really bad. the doc called and gave me my results. he said that my right ear showed a weakness compared to my left. now i kinda expected that cause when the lady did the test...she was on the phone and had left a couple times and when she went to put the water in my right ear she complelty missed and didn`t put it in there until i had to tell her she was missing. one: do you think thats why it showed a weakness?

anyways so im being treated for this inner ear thing by given excersises to do at home to retrain balance and all. and im really not seeing too much of a change. i had mri done to rule out tumors....i had an allergy test....none. i had my two bottom impacted wisdom teeth taken out thinking maybe that caused the problem.

im just not convinced that i have an inner ear problem. i do believe though that im very likely to have an anxiety disoder. i cry alot and i haven`t done so since the 6th grade. im constanly worrying about this and what my life is going to be like. my parents are moving in 5 months and i have no where to go when they do. all the money i had saved up went to doctor appointments that really got me no where. here are a list of my symptoms

1. lightheaded most of the time 2. dizzy in the head...like a woozy swaying feeling almost always 3. tiny tension headches sometimes. 4. very depressed and my emotions are just always high. upset over everything

my vision seems perfect...got that checked out.

i went to the ent and he looked and found nothing wrong in my sinues and ears. did the hearing test...no problem.

i don`t think my balance is a problem cause im not falling over or having to hold onto things. im an other wise very healthy 21 year old guy. no history of any illness. i had spinal menigitis when i was a baby and i had carbon monoxide poisiong in the 6th grade from our oven. which i think started my anxiety in the 1st place.

before all this happened i was going through stressful times and i had really bad attacks. so what im wondering is maybe the last one i had sent my anxiety into an anxiety disorder.

ive had this now for 5 months and i just want my life back

what are your thoughts? thanks for your time

Answer:

Dear Sir / Madam:

It does sound like your symptoms are primarily anxiety related.  However, the ENG seems to show an inner ear weakness on one side based on your note.  An option is to have other types of tests for dizziness to make sure you don't have a true inner ear problem (or repeat the ENG). 

For more information:

Go to the Ear, Nose, and Throat Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Ravi N Samy, MD, FACS Ravi N Samy, MD, FACS
Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology, Director of Skull Base Surgery Fellowship, Director of Adults Cochlear Implantation Program
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati