Ever hear sounds that seem to come out of nowhere, like crackling, buzzing or thumping? Possibly, if you have hearing aids, they need a fitting or need adjustment. 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 commonly think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s a lot more than what you see. Different noises you might be hearing in your ears can mean different things. Here are some of the most common. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are painful and persistent, even though the majority are temporary and harmless.
Popping or Crackling
When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you may hear crackling or popping noises. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling 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, the passageway can literally get gummed up. In severe cases, when decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t help, a blockage can require surgical treatment. If you’re having lasting ear pain or pressure, you should probably consult a specialist.
Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?
It may not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you’re not wearing hearing aids, earwax could be your issue. It makes sense that too much wax could make it difficult to hear, and cause itchiness or possibly infections, but how could it make a sound? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what produces the ringing or buzzing. Thankfully, it’s easily solved: You can have the excess wax removed professionally. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Excessive, prolonged buzzing or ringing is called tinnitus. There are several forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health problem and is not itself a disease or disorder. While it may be as simple as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also associated with conditions like depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be alleviated by managing the root health concern; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.
This one’s much less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the noises to occur! Have you ever noticed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract in order to minimize the internal volume of some natural actions such as your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. 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 harmful. (But talking and chewing as well as yawning are not optional, it’s a good thing we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, although it’s very unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble whenever they want.
Pulsing or Thumping
Your probably not far from the truth if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have some of the bodies largest 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. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and when you go to see a hearing expert, unlike other types of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it also. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, if it’s something you’re dealing with on a daily basis, it’s a smart move to see a doctor. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; if it persists, it may point to a health concern. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate returns to normal.