Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

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

Do you ever hear noises that appear to come from nowhere, such as buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you wear hearing aids, it could mean that they require adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids the noises are coming from inside your ear. But don’t stress. Even though we usually think of our ears in terms of what they look like on the outside, there’s a great deal more than what you see. Here are some of the more common sounds you might hear inside your ears, and what they may mean is going on. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, though most are temporary and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

You could hear a popping or crackling when the pressure in your ear changes, possibly from a change in altitude or from swimming underwater or even from yawning. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing air and fluid to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. Occasionally this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation triggered by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum up the ears. sometimes surgery is needed in severe situations when the blockage isn’t helped by antibiotics or decongestants. If you’re having lasting ear pain or pressure, you should probably consult a specialist.

Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?

Once more, if you use hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t fitting correctly in your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax could be the issue. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not surprising that it could make hearing challenging, but how does it produce these noises? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what produces the buzzing or ringing. But not to worry, the extra wax can be professionally removed. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Intense, prolonged buzzing or ringing is called tinnitus. There are several kinds of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health issue and is not itself a disorder or disease. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be linked to anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be eased by dealing with the root health problem; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is caused by our own body and is a lot less commonplace. Have you ever noticed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? It’s the sound of little muscles inside your ears contracting in order to offer damage control for sounds you make: They lessen the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! We’re not saying you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be harmful. (And since never speaking or chewing isn’t a good option, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, though it’s very rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far of the mark if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s biggest veins are extremely close to your ears, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether from that important job interview or a tough workout, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and when you go to see a hearing expert, unlike other kinds of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it too. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are probably health issues if it continues. But if you just had a good workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

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