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Have been unable to wear headphones for over a year now

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Since summer of last year I have not been able to wear any sort of headphones. Whenever I wear them, whether they're on or off, loose, tight, loud, quiet, in ear, over ear, whatever,  First I feel a lot of pressure, within a few minutes I am having trouble breathing, then I start coughing, and I develop an excruciating headache and inner ear pain. It's worse in the left ear, so I cant sleep on that side anymore. I've been to several doctors and no one could help me. From what I could find on google I was lead to believe it might be eustachian tube blockage but the ENT I went to said that wasn't the case. It was all very sudden too. Just over the course of half a month. Before I barely cared about how tight headphones were, no matter how tight they were they didn't hurt until my problem developed. I own a Sennheiser HD 380 Pro, the 280 model, some cheap gummy earbuds, and a Grado SR80i. I've tried other headphones I cant remember the names of and they all gave me the same problem.  I desperately miss my headphones. My laptop speakers cant really match up to them, and I don't get any privacy. And there's just something more intimate about listening to music on headphones. 


So has anyone else had this problem or is at least familiar with it? I'm at my wit's end here. I've lurked here on and off for years and trust this community on audio matters more than anyone.

post #2 of 3

First let me say that I am very sorry to read about your problem.  I would be concerned as well!


Without getting into full disclosure what did the doctor(s) say about your problem?


Some people report that turning down the bass VIA EQ really helps.  Other report that it is both the bass and high treble EQ that helps.


From what I read as the frequency goes up the intensity goes up.  This leads me to believe that it is more an issue of treble than bass.  Try using EQ and drop the top most frequencies down 6 - 10 dB just to see if that helps.  If it does then the treble is most likely the cause.


This is going to sound strange, but try wearing the headphones and not listen to anything at all.  If after an hour you have the symptoms then the headphone structure may be the cause vs the sound.  If your are fine in an hour then the sound is most likely the cause.


You can take a look here:



Reading about vestibular hyperacusis makes me think this is more likely your problem.  One way to help is to listen to pink noise at low volume levels an hour each day.  This can retrain your brain and nerves to tolerate sound again.


As pressure builds up in your ears vertigo can ensue.


There are more serious diagnosis like myasthenia gravis, but you should really consult a doctor before making any conclusions.


See also meniere's disease which can be contributed to excess fluid in the ear.


I hope that helps.  I am not a doctor, but just a person trying to help.

post #3 of 3

I'd get a second opinion from a different ENT rather than asking on an audio forum, this sounds like a serious medical issue.

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