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Silencing the Sounds in Her Head

Patient Stories

A Medical Mystery Solved at Mass. Eye and Ear

Maryjane Behforouz spent years trying to ignore clicking sounds in her head.

She had seen three ear, nose and throat specialists, and none of them seemed to know why she heard nearly constant clicking (or sometimes crunching) sounds that were so loud she’d wake up in the middle of the night.

Maryjane Behforouz, of Indiana, spent years trying to ignore clicking sounds in her head. Then, one day, she found Dr. Tina Stankovic, an ear surgeon at Mass. Eye and Ear, who listened very carefully to her story.

All three diagnosed her with sensorineural hearing loss, or a loss of sensory cells in the ear. Unfortunately, there was little they could do to bring Maryjane’s hearing back — or to stop the terrible crunching sounds.

That is, until she found Konstantina Stankovic, MD, PhD, FACS, Chief of Otology and Neurotology at Mass. Eye and Ear, who listened very carefully to her story.

Dr. Stankovic discovered that Maryjane had, in fact, broken a tiny bone in her ear. She did not have sensorineural hearing loss. She had a conductive hearing loss, which is often treatable with surgery.

Dr. Stankovic was able to quiet the clicking noises through a surgery that repaired the fracture using bone cement. She explained that the clicking was caused by two fragments of bone vibrating out of sync in response to sound.

“The important thing is you really have to listen to your patient,” Dr. Stankovic said.

Read the full story in The Washington Post.

7 Comments

Reply

  1. Kellie Boudreau

    I was diagnosed with tinnitus at MEEI about 5 years or so ago. Are there any new treatments for this that work. Also, I see supplements all over the place, online and at the local pharmacies, but not sure if they really are a help. Your thoughts please. Thank You

    • Suzanne Day

      Hi, Kellie. Thank you for reading. These questions are best answered in the doctor’s office, and so unfortunately we are unable to provide medical advice in this forum. If you’d like to see a Mass. Eye and Ear specialist again, please call 617-573-3954 or request an appointment online here: https://www.masseyeandear.org/request-an-appointment”

  2. Emilio Cancio-Bello

    The question is: are there any treatments that work for tinnitus?

    • Suzanne Day

      Hi Emilio, thank you for your question. We are unable to provide individual medical advice in this forum and would encourage you to follow up with your doctor on this. If you’d like to see someone at Mass. Eye and Ear, please call 617-573-3954 or request an appointment online here: https://www.masseyeandear.org/request-an-appointment

  3. Kim LaTerza

    Hello, the article on Maryjane Behferouz does not state how she broke a small ear bone unless I only read the short version of the story. How did this happen to her ? If I missed it please let me know. Thank you, Kim

    • Suzanne Day

      Hi Kim, here’s the description from the Washington Post article:

      In July 2015, while driving near her home, she felt an itch deep in her left ear, as though something was tickling her eardrum. She suspected the problem was residual water in her ear from swimming, or the remnant of a recent cold. Behforouz covered the opening of her ear with a fingertip then forcefully pressed several times in quick succession to create pressure that would expel the water and eliminate the itch. Almost immediately, she realized that her hearing in that ear seemed diminished.

  4. cecelia bradshaw

    I love Dr. Stankovic, she’s brilliant.