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

Ever hear noises that seem to come out of nowhere, such as buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you use hearing aids, it may mean that they have to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are originating from inside your ear. You don’t have to panic. Even though we usually think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s a great deal more than meets the eye. Here are some of the more common noises you might hear inside your ears, and what they could indicate is happening. Even though the majority are harmless (and not long lasting), if any are lasting, painful, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a smart idea to consult a hearing professional.

Popping or Crackling

You may hear a crackling or popping when the pressure in your ear changes, maybe from a change in altitude or from swimming underwater or even from yawning. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens to allow air and fluid to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but on occasion, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your tubes can literally get gummed up. sometimes surgery is needed in serious situations when the blockage isn’t helped by antibiotics or decongestants. You probably should consult a hearing professional if you have pressure or persistent pain.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

It may not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as previously mentioned. But if you don’t have 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 does it cause these sounds? The buzzing or ringing is produced when the wax is pushing on the eardrum and suppressing its motion. The good news is, it’s easily solved: You can get the excess wax professionally removed. (This is not a DIY activity!) Tinnitus is the term for lasting buzzing or ringing. There are a few forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health concern and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. While it could be as straightforward as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also connected to afflictions like anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be relieved by treating the root health problem; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is a lot less common. Do you know that rumble you can hear sometimes when you have a really big yawn? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help lessen the internal volume of some natural actions such as your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. We’re not suggesting 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 damaging. (But talking and chewing not to mention 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 quite rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat inside your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s largest veins run extremely close to your ears, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from that important job interview or a difficult workout, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and when you go to see a hearing expert, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it too. 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 a symptom rather than a disease; if it persists, it may indicate a health issue. But if you just had a hard workout, you should not hear it when your heart rate comes back to normal.

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