Do you ever hear sounds that seem to come out of nowhere, such as buzzing, thumping, or crackling? Perhaps, if you have hearing aids, they need a fitting or need adjustment. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the noises are originating from inside your ear. But don’t freak out. Even though we generally think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s a lot more than what you see. Different sounds you might be hearing inside of your ears can mean different things. Here are several of the most common. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are painful and persistent, although most are brief and harmless.
Popping or Crackling
When the pressure in your ears changes, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear crackling or popping sounds. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. When the mucus-lined passageway opens to allow air and fluid to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. Sometimes this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation brought about by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum up the ears. Surgery is sometimes needed in severe cases when the blockage isn’t helped by antibiotics or decongestants. If you’re experiencing chronic ear pain or pressure, you should probably consult a professional.
Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?
Once again, if you use hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t fitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could be due to excess earwax. It seems logical that too much wax could make it difficult to hear, and cause itchiness or possibly 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 extra wax can be removed professionally. (Don’t attempt to do this at home!) Excessive, prolonged buzzing or ringing is known as tinnitus. Even noise from too much earwax is a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health concern and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as straightforward as wax buildup, tinnitus is also associated with afflictions including anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the fundamental 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 the actually the one causing the sound to occur! Have you ever noticed how in some cases, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract in order to reduce the internal volume of certain natural actions such as your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. Activities, including yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that even though they are not very loud, they can still be damaging to 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.) It’s extremely unusual, but some people can control one of these muscles, 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 in your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s largest veins run extremely close to your ears, and if your heart rate’s high, whether it’s from a hard workout or a big job interview, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other kinds of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to a hearing professional, they will be able to hear it as well. If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to see a professional because that’s not normal. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; if it continues, it could indicate a health issue. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate goes back to normal.