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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 seem to come from nowhere? Perhaps, if you use hearing aids, they might need a fitting or require adjustment. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. There’s no need to panic. Even though we usually think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s much more than meets the eye. Different sounds you might be hearing inside of your ears can indicate different things. Here are a few of the most prevalent. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are irritating and persistent, although the majority are short-term and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear popping or crackling noises. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. The crackling takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing air and fluid to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. Occasionally this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation brought about by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. In severe cases, where decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could call for surgical treatment. If you’re having chronic ear pain or pressure, you really should see a professional.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

Again, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds if they aren’t sitting properly in your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax might be your issue. It makes sense that too much wax may make it tough to hear, and cause itchiness or possibly infections, but how could it make a sound? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. Fortunately, it’s easily solved: You can get the extra wax professionally removed. (Don’t try to do this yourself!) Tinnitus is the name for persistent ringing or buzzing. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health issue and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be associated with depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and dealing with the underlying health issue can help lessen tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s significantly less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one causing the noises to happen! Have you ever observed how in some cases, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help lessen the internal volume of certain natural actions such as your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. We’re not saying you chew too loudly, it’s just that those noises are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be damaging. (But chewing and talking not to mention yawning are not something we can stop doing, it’s a good thing 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 create that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far from the truth 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 your heart rate’s up, whether from that important job interview or a hard workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to a hearing specialist, he or she will be able to hear it too. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to see a professional because that’s not normal. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are most likely health concerns if it continues. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate comes back to normal.