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

Ever hear noises that appear to come out of nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they require adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids the sounds are originating from inside your ear. You don’t have to panic. Even though we usually think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s a great deal more than what you see. Different noises you might be hearing inside of your ears could mean different things. Here are some of the most prevalent. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, although most are short-term and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling noises. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens to allow fluid and air to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. Sometimes this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation triggered by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum the ears up. In severe cases, when antibiotics or decongestants don’t provide relief, a blockage could require surgical treatment. You probably should see a hearing professional if you feel pressure or persistent pain.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as previously mentioned. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be because of excess earwax. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unexpected that it could make hearing challenging, but how could it produce these noises? The buzzing or ringing is caused when the wax is pushing on the eardrum and inhibiting its movement. Fortunately, it’s easily solved: You can get the extra wax professionally removed. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Intense, prolonged ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a type 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 associated with afflictions like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s not as common, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound to occur! Have you ever observed how in some cases, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumbling? It’s the sound of tiny muscles in your ears contracting in order to provide damage control on sounds you create: They lessen the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! Activities, like yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that even though they are not very loud, they can still harming your ears. (But talking and chewing not to mention yawning are not optional, it’s a good thing we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by some people, although it’s very rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble whenever they want.

Pulsing or Thumping

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat inside your ears, you’re most likely right. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s high, whether from a hard workout or an important job interview, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the term for this, and when you go to see a hearing specialist, unlike other kinds of tinnitus, 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 consult a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; there are most likely health issues if it persists. But if you just had a hard workout, you should not hear it when your heart rate goes back to normal.

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