Ever hear sounds that appear to come from nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you have hearing aids, it might mean that they require adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the noises are originating from inside your ear. There’s no need to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they may mean is happening. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lowering your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, although the majority are temporary and harmless.
Popping or Crackling
You may hear a popping or crackling if the pressure in your ear changes, perhaps from an altitude change or from going underwater or even from a yawn. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. The crackling takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, enabling fluid and air to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. It’s an automatic process, but in some cases, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can literally get gummed up. Surgery is sometimes needed in serious situations when the blockage isn’t improved by decongestants or antibiotics. If you’re suffering from chronic ear pain or pressure, you really should consult a specialist.
Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?
Again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t sitting correctly in your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But if you’re not wearing hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be because of excess earwax. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense with earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing difficult, but how could it create these noises? The ringing or buzzing is produced when the wax is pushing against the eardrum and inhibiting its motion. Thankfully, it’s easily solved: You can get the excess wax professionally removed. (This is not a DIY activity!) Excessive, persistent ringing or buzzing is known as tinnitus. Even noise from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder; it’s a symptom that suggests something else is going on with your health. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be connected to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.
This sound is caused by our own body and is a lot less common. Do you know that rumbling you can sometimes hear when you have a really big yawn? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help minimize the internal volume of some natural actions such as your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. We’re not claiming you chew too noisily, it’s just that those sounds are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be damaging. (And since you can’t stop chewing or speaking, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by some people, although it’s quite rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble at will.
Thumping or Pulsing
Your probably not far from the truth if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s largest veins are very close to your ears, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from that important job interview or a difficult workout, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the term for this, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to see a hearing specialist, they will be able to hear it as well. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, if it’s something you’re living with on a regular basis, it’s a smart step to see your physician. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease; if it continues, it may point to a health issue. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate goes back to normal.