Do you ever hear noises that seem to come from nowhere, such as crackling, buzzing or thumping? Perhaps, if you use hearing aids, they need to be fitted or need adjustment. But it could also be possible that, if you don’t wear hearing aids, the sounds may well be coming from inside your ears. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear in your ears, and what they could mean is going on. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lowering your quality of life or are painful and chronic, even though the majority are temporary and harmless.
Crackling or Popping
You could hear a crackling or popping when the pressure in your ear changes, possibly from a change in altitude or from swimming underwater or even from a yawn. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing fluid and air to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can actually get gummed up. In severe cases, when antibiotics or decongestants don’t help, a blockage might call for surgical treatment. If you’re suffering from chronic ear pain or pressure, you probably should see a professional.
Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?
It might not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. But if you’re not wearing hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be due to excess earwax. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense with earwax, and it’s not unexpected that it could make hearing challenging, but how could it cause these noises? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what produces the ringing or buzzing. The good news is, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax professionally removed. (This is not a DIY activity!) Tinnitus is the term for persistent ringing or buzzing. Even noise from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease; it’s a symptom that suggests something else is going on with your health. While it could be as straightforward as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also linked to afflictions including anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the fundamental health problem can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.
This one’s less common, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one making the sound to occur! Have you ever noticed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? It’s the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears which contract in order to offer damage control for sounds you make: They turn down the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! We’re not saying you chew too loudly, it’s just that those noises are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be harmful. (And since never speaking or chewing isn’t a good option, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by some people, even though it’s quite unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to produce that rumble at will.
Thumping or Pulsing
Your probably not far of the mark if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s biggest 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 hard workout, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and when you consult a hearing professional, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a professional because that’s not normal. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are most likely health concerns if it persists. But if you just had a hard workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.