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

Do you ever hear noises that seem to come out of nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? Perhaps, if you wear hearing aids, they need to be fitted or require adjustment. But it may also be possible that, if you don’t have hearing aids, the sounds could 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 may be hearing inside of your ears can mean different things. Here are a few 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 the majority are short-term and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

You could hear a popping or crackling when the pressure in your ear changes, possibly from a change in altitude or from going underwater or even from yawning. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling air and fluid to pass, 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, your tubes can actually get gummed up. In serious cases, where decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage can call for surgical intervention. If you’re experiencing lasting ear pain or pressure, you should probably see a professional.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

It may not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax could be your issue. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing challenging, but how could it cause these noises? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what produces the buzzing or ringing. Fortunately, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax professionally removed. (This is not a DIY task!) Tinnitus is the name for persistent buzzing or ringing. Even buzzing from too much earwax is a form 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. Diagnosing and dealing with the underlying health problem can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is a lot less commonplace. 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 which contract in order to provide damage control on sounds you create: They reduce the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! We’re not saying you chew too noisily, it’s just that those sounds are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be damaging. (And since you can’t stop speaking or chewing, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by some people, though it’s very unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat inside your ears, you’re most likely right. The ears have some of the bodies biggest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from a hard workout or a big job interview, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and when you consult a hearing expert, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it too. If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to see a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; if it continues, it may point to a health issue. But if you just had a hard workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

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