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

Do you ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that appear to come from nowhere? Possibly, if you use hearing aids, they might need to be fitted or need adjustment. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the noises are coming from inside your ear. But don’t panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different sounds you may be hearing inside of your ears could indicate different things. Here are some of the most prevalent. Although the majority are harmless (and temporary), if any are lasting, painful, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a smart idea to consult a hearing specialist.

Crackling or Popping

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you could hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling air and fluid to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can actually get gummed up. In severe cases, where antibiotics or decongestants don’t help, a blockage could require surgical treatment. If you’re having lasting ear pain or pressure, you really should consult a specialist.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t sitting correctly in your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax could be your problem. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing difficult, but how does it create these noises? The buzzing or ringing is caused when the wax is pushing against the eardrum and inhibiting its movement. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be professionally removed. (Don’t attempt to do this at home!) Tinnitus is the term for lasting buzzing or ringing. Even buzzing from too much earwax is a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease; it’s a symptom that signifies something else is going on with your health. While it might be as simple as wax buildup, tinnitus is also connected to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be eased by managing the root health concern; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is caused by our own body and is much less common. Do you know that rumble you can sometimes hear when you have a really big yawn? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help reduce the internal volume of some natural actions like your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the contraction of these muscles in reaction to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. Activities, such as yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that even though they are not really loud, they can still be damaging to your hearing. (But talking and chewing as well as yawning are not something we can stop doing, 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’re able to produce that rumble whenever they want.

Pulsing or Thumping

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re probably right. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from a hard workout or a big job interview, the sound of your pulse will be detected by your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and when you go to see a hearing professional, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it also. If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; there are most likely health concerns if it continues. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate comes back to normal.

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