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? Perhaps, if you use hearing aids, they need a fitting or require adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. But don’t stress. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different sounds you might be hearing inside of your ears can indicate different things. Here are several of the most typical. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lowering your quality of life or are painful and chronic, although the majority are brief and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

You might hear a crackling or popping when the pressure in your ear changes, perhaps from a change in altitude or from swimming underwater or even from yawning. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. The crackling sound occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, permitting air and fluid to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your tubes can actually get gummed up. sometimes surgery is needed in serious situations when the blockage isn’t helped by antibiotics or decongestants. You should probably consult a specialist if you have pressure or lasting pain.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

Once again, if you use hearing aids, you could hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. If you aren’t wearing hearing aids, earwax could be the problem. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing difficult, but how could it produce these sounds? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what produces the buzzing or ringing. But don’t worry, the extra wax can be removed professionally. (This is not a DIY job!) Tinnitus is the term for lasting ringing or buzzing. There are a number of forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health concern and is not itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as straightforward as wax buildup, tinnitus is also associated with conditions like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the fundamental health problem can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This one’s significantly less common, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the noises to occur! Do you know that rumbling you can sometimes hear when you take a really big yawn? It’s the sound of tiny muscles in your ears contracting in order to provide damage control for sounds you make: They reduce the volume of yawning, chewing, even your own voice! We’re not claiming you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be harmful. (But talking and chewing not to mention yawning are not something we can stop doing, it’s a good thing we have these little muscles.) It’s very unusual, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have some of the bodies largest veins running near them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether from that important job interview or a hard workout, the sound of your pulse will be detected by your ears. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms 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. 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 smart step to see a doctor. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; if it continues, it may suggest a health concern. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate comes back to normal.