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

Ever hear thumping, buzzing, or crackling noises that seem to come from nowhere? If you wear hearing aids, it might mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids the noises are originating from inside your ear. But don’t stress. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different sounds you may be hearing in your ears could indicate different things. Here are several of the most prevalent. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, though the majority are brief and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

You may hear a crackling or popping if the pressure in your ear changes, possibly from an altitude change or from going underwater or even from a yawn. 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 fluid and air to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. Occasionally this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. Surgery is sometimes needed in extreme situations when the blockage isn’t helped by decongestants or antibiotics. You probably should consult a hearing professional if you have pressure or lasting pain.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could be due to excess earwax. It makes sense that excessive wax might make it difficult 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 function, that’s what produces the buzzing or ringing. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be removed professionally. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Excessive, persistent ringing or buzzing is known as tinnitus. There are several kinds of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health problem and is not itself a disease or disorder. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be connected to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help lessen tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is a lot less common. 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 in order to minimize the internal volume of some natural actions like your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the contraction of these muscles in response to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. 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 volume level would be damaging. (And since never speaking or chewing isn’t a good solution, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) It’s extremely rare, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble whenever they want.

Pulsing or Thumping

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether from that big job interview or a tough workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, 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 your pulse is not racing, you need to see a professional because that’s not common. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; there are likely health problems if it continues. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate returns to normal.

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