Quality Hearing Systems - Maplewood, MN

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

Do you ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling noises that appear to come from nowhere? Possibly, if you use hearing aids, they might need a fitting or require adjustment. But it could also be possible that, if you don’t have hearing aids, the sounds may well be coming from inside your ears. But don’t panic. Even though we commonly think of our ears in terms of what they look like on the outside, there’s much more than meets the eye. Here are some of the more common noises you might hear in your ears, and what they could indicate is going on. Though the majority are harmless (and not long lasting), if any of these sounds are prolonged, painful, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a smart idea to talk to a hearing expert.

Popping or Crackling

You might hear a crackling or popping if 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. The crackling sound takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting air and fluid to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. Occasionally this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation brought about by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. In serious cases, when antibiotics or decongestants don’t help, a blockage might require surgical intervention. If you’re suffering from chronic ear pain or pressure, you really should see a specialist.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

Once more, if you use hearing aids, you could hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting properly in your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax could be the problem. It seems logical that excessive wax might make it hard to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how can it make a sound? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what causes the buzzing or ringing. Fortunately, it’s easily fixed: You can have the extra wax professionally removed. (Don’t try to do this at home!) Excessive, prolonged ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. 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 suggests something else is going on with your health. While it could be as simple as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also associated with conditions including depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be eased by treating the root health problem; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s less common, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the noises to happen! Do you know that rumbling you can hear sometimes when you have a really big yawn? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help reduce the internal volume of certain natural actions like your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. We’re not suggesting you chew too loudly, it’s just that those noises are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be damaging. (But talking and chewing as well as yawning are not optional, it’s lucky 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 at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far of the mark if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running very close them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from a tough workout or a big job interview, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and when you go to see a hearing expert, unlike other kinds of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it too. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to consult a specialist because that’s not common. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease; there are likely health concerns if it persists. But if you just had a good workout, you should not hear it when your heart rate returns to normal.