Non-quilting post today. Just weird stuff to share.

If you’re over a certain age and live in the US, that title may remind you of the old National Weather Service warning signal. Remember how the recorded message began, “This is a test. This is only a test.” Then a piercing, endless tone began: beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep

Today it’s a series of mechanical sounding squawks, but back then the high pitched tone just about drove you nuts.

Thursday night I woke up at 3am to go to the bathroom. My ear itched, so I grabbed a Q-tip and gave it a little squiggle, no different from the thousands of times I’ve done it before. Yes, I know you’re not supposed to stick things in your ears, but I bet at least half of you do it, too. I didn’t DO anything to my ear – no pain, no discomfort. It was literally the same as every other time. But a minute later, my right ear began ringing – that same piercing National Weather Service beeeeep. This is not uncommon. I occasionally hear a high pitched tone in one ear or the other, and it fades away after a few seconds. This time it didn’t fade. Half an hour of tossing and turning and it was still as piercing as ever. I turned up the music and finally fell asleep for an hour or so, but at 5am when I woke up it was still there. I looked it up – I have a book called “Symptoms, Their Causes and Cures” that I go to for things like this. Apparently, tinnitus can be caused by any number of things, including age, loud noises, infection, ear wax, stress, and several other conditions. I thought, “Hmmm, ear wax. All these years of sticking Q-tips in my ears has probably packed ear wax in there.”

At 5:45 am I was on my way to the 24 hour grocery store to get some ear wax cleaner. It’s kind of freaky feeling – you drip 5-10 drops into your ear, tilt your head sideways so it doesn’t come out, and then wait for several minutes as it slides down into your ear and loosens the ear wax. Once it fills your ear, external sounds are muted. It gets all warm and you can hear the occasional bubble popping. Then you tilt your head to the other side and let it drain out, finishing with a few gentle squirts of warm water to rinse it away. I’ll be honest – when I finished “cleaning” my ear, more than anything I wanted to stick another Q-tip in there to get the cleaner out! But it worked – 15 minutes later, the ringing stopped.

All day at work it was wonderful, but by the end of the day I had a headache (stress or tension headaches can cause tinnitus) and the sound came back, although much quieter. Today my ear has been a little achy, with an occasional sharper ache. That went away after a long nap this afternoon, but now I’m afraid there’s more to this than just ear wax. Of course that worry is causing more stress!

For now, I’m just working on relaxing my neck and jaw muscles (some other time I’ll talk about trigger points in muscles) and trying not to let the sound drive me – sorry but there’s no other way to describe it accurately – batshit insane.



  1. Sandi, I know what this is like…..chances are it will clear on its own. Try to avoid using Q-tips, lay off the salt and take a Xanax. You can email me privately if you’d like more advice. Good luck and take care.

  2. That’s got to be annoying. See your doctor, though, to (a) rule out infection, and (b) clear any remaining earwax, if that might be the issue. I have had that transient ringing that goes away after a few seconds. I have also used Q-tips all my life and have never had a problem with earwax buildup, but I have had an infection (swimmer’s ear). Hubby has to have his ears flushed out regularly (he doesn’t believe in using Q-tips either). When the doctor does it, you will know they’ve been flushed! (not unpleasant, but they “go at it,” hubby says, until it’s clear)

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