I'm not an expert, but it sounds like it might be a problem with the acoustic reflex or stapedius muscle. You should see an ENT who SPECIALIZES in the inner ear. Ask for a referral to (or find on your own, perhaps by calling your nearest medical school) a NEURO-OTOLOGIST (ENT specializing in inner ear), or possibly an oto-neurologist (neurologist specializing in ears--not many of these around). A couple of Web sites to try:
American Neurotology Society
Vestibular Disorders Association
Dr. Tim Hain's site doesn't have doctor lists but has great info on everything about ears and dizziness. See esp. http://www.dizziness-and-balance.com/testing/acoustic_reflexes.htm
Get your hearing tested, even if you don't think you have hearing loss. Good luck!
I came across your post trying to find a cure for myself. My right ear would make noises in rhythm with other external noises. Like in your instance, I'd be holding my phone to my left ear - and the right ear would be crackling synchronously with my friend's voice on the phone. Or if I'm typing, the ear would be producing noises imitating the rhythm of typing.
The noises that my right ear would react to are unpredictable. Sometimes the typing or the phone would cause no reaction. And sometimes they would. Sometimes the ear would just react to a certain person's speech while being unresponsive to another person.
The noise that the ear would produce would best be compared to a sail of a ship being moved around by the wind.
The doctors have not provided an explanation. They seem to either discard it, or say "you have hypersensitive ears", or prescribe zinc and lipoflavinoids, or anti-congestant. Nothing helps.
Also, for the last 15 years I've noticed that the hearing in the ear that makes the noise has been apparently less acute than the other ear, though both ears pass all hearing tests equally fine. But the quality of hearing is subjectively worse in that ear to me: everything seems to be more muffled.
Also, I have ringing in my ears that I take notice of only when I lay down in bed when going to sleep.
NancyT, thank you for your advice regarding specialists. If I go back to a doctor, I'll make sure I go to the right one.
Let's try to figure this out!
PashaZ, what tests have you had, and what kind of doctor(s) have you seen?
Hi NancyT! I had the audiology thing - audiogram it's called I believe?
I saw Dr. Paul Gidley, Associate Professor of Otology-Neurology in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Gidley specializes in hearing loss, ear infections, and lateral skull base tumors. He has special interests in temporal bone cancers and acoustic neuromas. (Ask me why this one... I guess because MD Anderson is # something for ENT in the US News and World report...)
I also saw Dr. Melton Horwitz. His special interests are otologic surgery, rehabilitation of hearing loss with implants, endoscopic sinus surgery, and laser surgery.
Gidley said that audiogram is normal, Horwitz said by looking at the same audiogram that there's something off at one frequency in the left ear (which is not bothering me).
Well, you've seen the right kind of specialists (otologists or neuro-otologists)... but if they've only done an audiogram and no other testing, I'm kind of surprised.
There are other tests such as acoustic reflex testing (where you get special plugs in your ears and they make a very loud, sudden sound in one ear) and auditory brainstem response (where you get electrodes on your scalp and listen to long series of clicks), MRI or CT scans, and no doubt some others, but I can't say whether any of those would be helpful in your case. Perhaps not. I guess if the doctors felt they might learn something from any of these tests, they would have done them.
If you are not having dizziness, measurable hearing loss, or other unusual symptoms, I guess they are not too concerned about it. Hard to live with that kind of stuff when you know something is "off." I've had some really weird ear stuff (and a bunch of other weird symptoms) but despite a reasonable amount of testing they could not find the cause of my symptoms, so far at least. Surprisingly, it is not at all uncommon to have the strangest symptoms yet not have doctors, even specialists, be able to find the cause (or be really interested in finding it).
thanks for writing, nancyt!
I have the same problem.
I did an audiology test where they placed electric pads all over my forehead while I listened to a series of clicks for about an hours. They found an abnormality in my ear, so they scheduled an MRI.
After a month of getting my MRI, they told me everything turned out to be normal.
I'm wondering if it has to do with my neck at all. Sometimes when I move my neck I hear crackling as well.