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Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA Eastside Audiology - Issaquah, WA

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

Do you ever hear noises that appear to come from nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the sounds are originating from inside your ear. But don’t panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different sounds you might be hearing in your ears can mean different things. Here are some of the most typical. Even though most are harmless (and not long lasting), if any are lasting, irritating, or otherwise impeding your quality of life, it’s a good idea to get in touch with a hearing expert.

Crackling or Popping

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you might 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 allowing air and fluid to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but in some situations, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can literally get gummed up. In extreme cases, where decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage may require surgical treatment. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure, you probably should consult a specialist.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

It may not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as previously mentioned. But if you’re not wearing hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could be due to excess earwax. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense with earwax, and it’s not unexpected that it could make hearing challenging, but how could it produce these noises? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what causes the buzzing or ringing. Fortunately, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (Don’t try to do this at home!) Intense, prolonged ringing or buzzing is known as tinnitus. There are a number of forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder; it’s a symptom that indicates something else is taking place with your health. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be connected to anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be alleviated by dealing with the root health problem; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s much less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound to happen! Have you ever noticed 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 decrease the internal volume of some natural actions such as your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. Activities, including yawning and chewing, are so near to your ears that even though they are not very loud, they can still harming your hearing. (And since you can’t stop speaking or chewing, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by some people, although it’s very rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

Pulsing or Thumping

If you occasionally 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 you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from that important job interview or a hard workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and when you consult a hearing specialist, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it as well. While it’s totally 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 wise decision to see your physician. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; if it persists, it could point to a health issue. But if you just had a hard workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

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