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

Do you ever hear noises that seem to come out of nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they require adjustment or aren’t fitted properly. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the noises 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 what you see. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they could indicate is going on. Even though the majority are harmless (and temporary), if any of these sounds are lasting, painful, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a smart strategy to get in touch with a hearing expert.

Popping or Crackling

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you might hear crackling or popping noises. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, enabling fluid and air to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. It’s an automatic process, but in some cases, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your tubes can literally get gummed up. In serious cases, where decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage can call for surgical treatment. If you’re experiencing lasting ear pain or pressure, you should probably consult a professional.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

Once more, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting properly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax may be your issue. It makes sense that too much wax might make it difficult to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how could it make a sound? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the buzzing or ringing. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be professionally removed. (Don’t try to do this at home!) Tinnitus is the term for lasting ringing or buzzing. There are a few types of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease; it’s a symptom that suggests something else is going on with your health. While it might be as straightforward as wax buildup, tinnitus is also connected to afflictions such as anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be eased by treating the underlying health issue; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is a lot less commonplace. Have you ever observed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumbling? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract in order to reduce the internal volume of certain natural actions like 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. Activities, like yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that although they are not very loud, they can still harming your ears. (But chewing and talking not to mention yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, though it’s quite rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble whenever they want.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your most likely not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running very close them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from that big 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 professional, he or she will be able to hear it as well. If you’re experiencing pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; there are most likely health concerns if it persists. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate returns to normal.