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

Ever hear noises that seem to come out of nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you wear hearing aids, it could mean that they have to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But it may also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds could be coming from your ears. But don’t freak out. Even though we commonly think of our ears in terms of what they look like on the outside, there’s a lot more than what you see. Different sounds you might be hearing in your ears can indicate different things. Here are some of the most prevalent. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are irritating and persistent, even though the majority are temporary and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear popping or crackling noises. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling sound happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing air and fluid to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. It’s an automatic process, but on occasion, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your tubes can actually get gummed up. In extreme cases, where antibiotics or decongestants don’t provide relief, a blockage can call for surgical intervention. You should probably consult a hearing professional if you feel pressure or persistent pain.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

It may not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax could be your problem. It seems logical that too much wax could make it hard 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 work properly, that’s what causes the buzzing or ringing. Fortunately, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (This is not a DIY task!) Tinnitus is the term for lasting ringing or buzzing. There are a number of forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease; it’s a symptom that indicates something else is going on with your health. While it may be as simple as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also related to conditions like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and dealing with the root health issue can help relieve tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is much less commonplace. Have you ever observed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help minimize the internal volume of certain natural actions like your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the contraction of these muscles in response to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. Activities, such as yawning and chewing, are so near to your ears that although they are not really loud, they can still harming your hearing. (But talking and chewing not to mention yawning are not something we can stop doing, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, though it’s quite unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you at times feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re probably right. The ears have some of the bodies largest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from a tough workout or an important job interview, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and when you go to see a hearing specialist, unlike other kinds of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it also. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, if it’s something you’re dealing with on a regular basis, it’s a smart decision to see a doctor. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; if it persists, it might suggest a health concern. 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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