Man touching ear in response to crackling noises in his ear.

Do you ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that appear to come out of nowhere? Perhaps, if you have hearing aids, they might need to be fitted or need adjustment. But it may also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds may be coming from inside your ears. 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 sounds you may hear in your ears, and what they may mean is going on. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, even though the majority are brief and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you might hear crackling or popping noises. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing air and fluid to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. Occasionally this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation triggered by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum up the ears. In extreme cases, where decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage can require surgical treatment. You should probably see a specialist if you feel pressure or persistent pain.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

Once more, if you have hearing aids, you could hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting correctly in your ears, the volume is too loud, or you have low batteries. But if you’re not wearing hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be due to excess earwax. It seems logical that too much wax may make it tough to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how can it make a sound? The ringing or buzzing is caused when the wax is pushing against the eardrum and inhibiting its motion. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be removed professionally. (Don’t attempt to do this yourself!) Tinnitus is the term for prolonged buzzing or ringing. There are a number of types of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health problem and is not itself a disease or disorder. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be related to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the root health issue can help relieve tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is much less commonplace. Have you ever noticed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumbling? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help lessen the internal volume of certain natural actions like your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. Activities, including yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that though they are not very loud, they can still harming your ears. (But talking and chewing as well as yawning are not something we can stop doing, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, although it’s very unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far from the truth if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have a few of the bodies biggest veins running very close them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from that big job interview or a hard workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and unlike other kinds 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 wise decision to see a doctor. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; there are likely health concerns if it persists. Because your heart rate should go back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate goes back to normal.

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