Do you ever hear noises that seem to come out of nowhere, like crackling, buzzing or thumping? Perhaps, if you wear hearing aids, they might need a fitting or need adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids the noises are originating from inside your ear. But don’t freak out. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different sounds you may be hearing in your ears could indicate different things. Here are some of the most prevalent. Though most are harmless (and not long lasting), if any are lasting, painful, or otherwise impeding your quality of life, it’s a good idea to talk to a hearing specialist.
Popping or Crackling
When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you could hear popping or crackling noises. These noises are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling fluid and air to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but on occasion, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can literally get gummed up. In serious cases, where antibiotics or decongestants don’t provide relief, a blockage may require surgical intervention. If you’re having chronic ear pain or pressure, you really should see a specialist.
Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?
It might not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax could be your issue. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not surprising that it could make hearing difficult, but how could it create these noises? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be removed professionally. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Excessive, prolonged ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health concern and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be associated with depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help lessen tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.
This one’s much less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one making the noises to happen! Have you ever observed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? It’s the sound of little muscles in your ears which contract in order to offer damage control on sounds you create: They turn down the volume of yawning, chewing, even your own voice! We’re not suggesting you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be damaging. (And since never chewing or speaking isn’t a good solution, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) It’s extremely unusual, but certain people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble at will.
Thumping or Pulsing
If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s largest veins are extremely close to your ears, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from that big job interview or a tough workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and when you consult a hearing professional, unlike other types of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to consult a specialist because that’s not common. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; there are likely health concerns if it continues. Because your heart rate should go back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate returns to normal.