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

Ever hear noises that seem to come from nowhere, such as buzzing, thumping, or crackling? Possibly, if you wear hearing aids, they need a fitting or require adjustment. But it may also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds might be coming from inside your ears. There’s no need to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different noises you might be hearing inside of your ears can indicate different things. Here are a few of the most common. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lowering your quality of life or are irritating and persistent, although most are temporary and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you could hear popping or crackling sounds. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing 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 actually get gummed up. sometimes surgery is needed in extreme situations when the blockage isn’t improved by antibiotics or decongestants. If you’re having persistent ear pain or pressure, you should probably consult a specialist.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting properly in your ears, the volume is too high, or you have low batteries. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be due to too much earwax. It seems logical that excessive wax may make it difficult to hear, and cause itchiness or possibly infections, but how can it make a sound? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what produces the ringing or buzzing. But not to worry, the extra wax can be professionally removed. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Intense, prolonged ringing or buzzing is known as tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax is a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder; it’s a symptom that signifies something else is taking place with your health. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be connected to anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be alleviated by dealing with the root health issue; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s not as prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one causing the sound to occur! Do you know that rumbling you can hear sometimes when you have a really big yawn? It’s the sound of little muscles in your ears contracting in order to offer damage control on sounds you make: They lessen the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! Activities, like yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that though they are not very loud, they can still be damaging to your ears. (And since never chewing or speaking isn’t a good solution, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) It’s very rare, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

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 biggest veins running very close them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from that important job interview or a difficult workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other kinds of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to see a hearing expert, they will be able to hear it too. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a specialist because that’s not common. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease; there are most likely health issues if it persists. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate goes back to normal.

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