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

Do you ever hear thumping, buzzing, or crackling sounds that appear to come out of nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they have to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids the sounds are originating from inside your ear. But don’t freak out. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different noises you may be hearing inside of 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 painful and persistent, even though most are short-term and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear crackling or popping noises. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens to allow fluid and air to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. Sometimes this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum up the ears. In serious cases, where antibiotics or decongestants don’t provide relief, a blockage can require surgical intervention. You probably should consult a specialist if you feel pressure or lasting pain.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax might be the problem. It makes sense that excessive wax could make it tough to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how could it make a sound? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. The good news is, it’s easily fixed: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (Don’t try to do this yourself!) Intense, persistent ringing or buzzing is known as tinnitus. There are several types of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder; it’s a symptom that suggests something else is taking place with your health. While it could be as simple as wax buildup, tinnitus is also linked to afflictions like depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be relieved by dealing with the root health problem; 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 making the sound to occur! Do you know that rumbling you can sometimes hear when you take a really big yawn? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help lessen the internal volume of certain natural actions like your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. We’re not suggesting 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 damaging. (But talking and chewing as well as yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) It’s extremely unusual, but certain people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble at will.

Pulsing or Thumping

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat inside your ears, you’re probably right. The ears have some of the bodies biggest veins running very close them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from a hard workout or an important job interview, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other kinds of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to a hearing expert, he or she will be able to hear it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to see a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; if it continues, it could point to a health issue. Because your heart rate should go back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate comes back to normal.

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