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

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come out of nowhere? It’s possible, if you wear hearing aids, they might need a fitting or need adjustment. But it could also be possible that, if you don’t wear hearing aids, the sounds may well be coming from your ears. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they could indicate is going on. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are painful and chronic, though the majority are short-term 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 originate. The crackling takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing fluid and air to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. At times this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum up the ears. Surgery is sometimes needed in extreme cases when the blockage isn’t improved by decongestants or antibiotics. You should probably consult a hearing professional if you feel pressure or lasting pain.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as previously mentioned. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax could be your issue. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense with earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing challenging, but how could it cause these noises? The buzzing or ringing is caused when the wax is pressing against the eardrum and suppressing its movement. But not to worry, the extra wax can be professionally removed. (This is not a DIY job!) Tinnitus is the term for prolonged ringing or buzzing. 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 going on with your health. While it could be as simple as wax buildup, tinnitus is also associated with conditions such as anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be alleviated by dealing with the root health concern; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is caused by our own body and is a lot less common. Do you know that rumbling you can hear sometimes when you have a really big yawn? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help reduce the internal volume of some natural actions such as your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. Activities, such as yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that although they are not very loud, they can still harming your ears. (And since you can’t stop chewing or speaking, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) It’s extremely rare, but certain people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat inside your ears, you’re most likely right. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running very close them, and if your heart rate’s high, whether from that important job interview or a hard workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to see a hearing specialist, 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 living with on a daily basis, it’s a wise step to see a doctor. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; if it continues, it might suggest a health concern. 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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