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

Ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling noises that seem to come out of nowhere? It’s possible, if you wear hearing aids, they need to be fitted or require adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. You don’t have to panic. Even though we usually think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s much more than what you see. Different sounds you may be hearing inside of your ears could indicate different things. Here are a few of the most prevalent. Though the majority are harmless (and temporary), if any of these sounds are persistent, painful, or otherwise impeding your quality of life, it’s a smart strategy to consult a hearing professional.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you may hear crackling or popping noises. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens to allow air and fluid to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but in some situations, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can literally get gummed up. sometimes surgery is needed in severe situations when the blockage isn’t helped by antibiotics or decongestants. You should probably consult a hearing professional if you feel pressure or persistent pain.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or you have low batteries. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax may be the 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? The ringing or buzzing is caused when the wax is pressing against the eardrum and suppressing its movement. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be professionally removed. (Don’t attempt to do this by yourself!) Intense, persistent buzzing or ringing is known as tinnitus. There are a few 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 taking place with your health. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be related to anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be eased by treating the root health issue; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s much less common, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one causing the noises to occur! Have you ever observed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract in order to minimize the internal volume of certain natural actions such as your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. Activities, including yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that though they are not really loud, they can still be damaging to your ears. (But chewing and talking not to mention yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) It’s very rare, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your most likely not far of the mark if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have some of the bodies biggest 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 term for this, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to see a hearing expert, he or she will be able to hear it as well. While it’s completely 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 practical move to see a doctor. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; if it continues, it might point to 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 returns to normal.

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