A bit of history. I have had a minor level of tinnitus for over a decade, which came on suddenly after I ascended from a scuba dive (there was no obvious trauma that occurred).
In time, I became used to the tinnitus and only noticed when going to bed, and even then it caused little bother.
Just recently (28 Dec) I jumped into the water and slapped my right ear on the surface (from a low height, about 1m (3ft)). I immediately felt some pain.
From that moment it felt like my ear was slightly off, like it still had water in it. That feeling and some minor pain persisted. I swam continuously for a number of days after (with some duck-diving). There may have been some increased ringing, but I really don't remember particularly noticing it.
I eventually flew about one week after hitting my ear (2 Jan). To be honest, I had almost forgotten about the injury by that time. I don't recall having any problem equalising, but I do remember that I noticed my right ear hurt more when we landed and the ringing seemed louder.
This new distress caused me to go to the doctor the next day. He said the slap (or flying) did not puncture my ear drum (which looked fine), but that the canal looked a little red. He gave me ear drops (four days) for a likely infection (Kenacomb).
The drops blocked up my ear for some days and eventually when the drops were finished, a nurse syringed out any remaining drops that had stuck to my eardrum (11 Jan). This syringing also felt like it increased my ringing and disturbed me ear. They said at this point there was no real redness anymore.
Since this time, my right ear is still ringing much louder than my left ear and I am becoming quite bothered and concerned. I can hear it during the day, something I didn't have before. My right ear also hurts and I feel that it is more sensitive to loud noises. Hearing doesn't feel quite as good either - but I think it has improved.
I would love to know what might be going on? What damage could I have likely done and most importantly, when will the pain, sensitivity and ringing go down? The ringing is what is really bothering me.
Since I already have tinnitus, is this increased ringing just part of the original tinnitus that has flared up or it is from new damage? Does the fact I had already had tinnitus mean my chances of it returning to normal are better or worse?
I suspect, there are a number of questions that may not be answered, appreciate any input.
Thank you so much for your response (and especially the speed of your response).
I have scheduled to see an ENT specialist.
Speaking generally, if there is no noticeable damage to the eardrum after slapping your ear on water (which is what started it all), how long might that recovery process take? At the moment it feels a bit tender, senstive to louder noise, little painful and a feeling of it being 'not quite right'. It also looks more red than the other ear at times (when it hurts the most).
Is this sort of trauma much different than a loud noise trauma?