Edison Stanford Intelligent Hearing - Salt Lake City, Draper, and Provo, UT

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

Ever hear noises that seem to come out of nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they require adjustment or aren’t fitted properly. But it might also be possible that, if you don’t have hearing aids, the sounds may be coming from your ears. There’s no need to panic. Even though we mostly think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s much more than what you see. Different sounds you may be hearing inside of your ears can mean different things. Here are some of the most typical. Though the majority are harmless (and not long lasting), if any of these sounds are prolonged, irritating, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a smart strategy to get in touch with a hearing specialist.

Popping or Crackling

You might hear a crackling or popping if the pressure in your ear changes, possibly from an altitude change or from swimming underwater or even from a yawn. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling air and fluid to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but in some situations, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your tubes can literally get gummed up. In severe cases, when decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t help, a blockage could call for surgical treatment. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure, you should probably see a professional.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

Once again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax might be the problem. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing difficult, but how could it produce these sounds? The buzzing or ringing is produced when the wax is pushing against the eardrum and inhibiting its movement. The good news is, it’s easily solved: You can get the excess wax professionally removed. (Don’t try to do this yourself!) Tinnitus is the name for persistent ringing or buzzing. Even noise from too much earwax is a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health problem and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as straightforward as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also related to afflictions such as depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be relieved by treating the root health concern; 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 sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? It’s the sound of little muscles inside your ears contracting in order to provide damage control for sounds you make: They turn down the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! We’re not saying you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be damaging. (But talking and chewing as well as yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by some people, although it’s very rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have some of the bodies biggest veins running near them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from a hard workout or an important job interview, your ears will pick up 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 professional, he or she will be able to hear it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to see a professional because that’s not common. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; there are probably 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 comes back to normal.

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