Hearing Health Blog

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

Ever hear thumping, buzzing, or crackling noises 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 wear hearing aids, the sounds may be coming from your ears. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different sounds you might be hearing inside of your ears can mean different things. Here are several of the most typical. Although most are harmless (and temporary), if any are persistent, irritating, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a good idea to consult a hearing specialist.

Crackling or Popping

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you might hear popping or crackling noises. These noises are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, permitting air and fluid to circulate and equalizing the pressure in your ears. It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your tubes can literally get gummed up. Surgery is sometimes needed in extreme situations when the blockage isn’t improved by decongestants or antibiotics. You should probably see a specialist if you have pressure or persistent pain.

Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?

It may not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you aren’t wearing hearing aids, earwax could be your problem. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unexpected that it could make hearing challenging, but how does it produce these sounds? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the buzzing or ringing. But not to worry, the extra wax can be professionally removed. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Excessive, prolonged ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. There are several forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health concern and is not itself a disorder or disease. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be related to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the root health problem can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is caused by our own body and is much less common. Have you ever observed how in some cases, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help reduce 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. We’re not claiming you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be harmful. (But chewing and talking as well as yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) It’s extremely rare, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble whenever they want.

Pulsing or Thumping

Your probably not far of the mark if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s largest veins run extremely close to your ears, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from that big job interview or a tough workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the term for this, and unlike other kinds of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to see a hearing professional, he or she will be able to hear it as well. If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to consult a professional because that’s not common. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; there are most likely health concerns if it persists. But if you just had a good workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

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