Do you ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling noises that seem to come from nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they require adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. 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 a great deal more than what you see. Different noises you may be hearing in your ears could mean different things. Here are some of the most prevalent. Even though the majority are harmless (and not long lasting), if any of these sounds are persistent, irritating, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a good strategy to consult a hearing expert.
Popping or Crackling
When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you may hear popping or crackling noises. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling fluid and air to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. Sometimes this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. In extreme cases, when antibiotics or decongestants don’t provide relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. If you’re suffering from persistent ear pain or pressure, you really should see a professional.
Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?
It might not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as previously mentioned. But if you’re not wearing hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be due to too much earwax. 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 create these noises? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what produces the buzzing or ringing. But not to worry, the excess wax can be professionally removed. (This is not a DIY job!) Intense, prolonged ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. Even noise from excessive earwax is a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health concern and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. While it may be as straightforward as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also linked to afflictions like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the root health issue can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.
This one’s much less common, and if you can hear it, you’re actually the one making the sound happen! Do you know that rumble you can hear sometimes when you have a really big yawn? It’s the sound of little muscles in your ears contracting in order to offer damage control for sounds you make: They lessen the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! 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 chewing and talking as well as yawning are not something we can stop doing, it’s a good thing we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, even though it’s very rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.
Pulsing or Thumping
If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re probably right. The ears have some of the bodies biggest veins running very close 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 name for this, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to a hearing professional, they will be able to hear it too. If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a specialist because that’s not common. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; if it persists, it could suggest a health issue. But if you just had a good workout, you should not hear it when your heart rate returns to normal.