Thumping in ears? Dopers, please help.

My MIL hears thumping in her ears. It began suddenly a few weeks ago. She can’t attribute it to anything, but she only notices it when it’s very quiet. The way she described it, it sounded like she was hearing her heartbeat in her ears, but she said it’s not a consistent rhythm. She went to a general practitioner, who couldn’t diagnose her. She has been referred to an ear/nose/throat specialist, but won’t get to see him for another two weeks. Any ideas as to what is going on? She doesn’t feel any pain, no sinus issues, no headaches.

Thank you for your help!

I had tinnitus, which means hearing sounds that aren’t there.
Went into a ear,nose,throat doctor and told that to the nurse.
She derided my “ignorance” (as she saw it then), and officiously informed me that “tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease.” To which I replied, “I know that, but I still have tinnitus, the symptom. Can I see the doctor now?”
The doc did the same thing, laughing at my ignorance, and I gave him the same answer. He ran some tests, which told him I could hear sounds in all normal ranges and volumes. And he saw no swelling or redness or lumps on the eardrum, etc.
So at the end he said When I paid for the visit, the nurse read the report to me again “Well you have no problem, you are quite well and there is no disease, you only have tinnitus.” Neither one recognized for a second that they and I had used “tinnitus” in the same way. And neither one realized that I was not encouraged by finding out there was no medical problem they could work on.

It went away by itself in two years. Perhaps your MIL will find this information useful should the doc have nothing useful to offer.

I have something like this which, again, no doctor has been able to diagnose (nor has been interested in trying to).

It’s not the cracking sound of air pressure equalizing between your inner ear and throat when you yawn, nor is it a ringing or tinny noise. It’s a rapidly pulsating thrum or thumping, and it is not rhythmic nor constant.

I only get it once in awhile, and I think I finally have it figured out. One day the random pattern of the thrumming reminded me of the rhythm of a facial tic or any little muscular tic. It also occurred to me that the ear thing happened when I felt a little tired or tense, just like when I get an eyelid tic. I’m now convinced that the thrumming is caused by some tiny muscle in or next to the inner ear which occasionally develops a tic. Now that I’m aware of it, I pay attention when it happens and I can detect the faintest suggestion of physical movement somewhere deep inside there. If my guess is accurate, then perhaps this is your MIL’s problem, too, Chicken Scratch.

First off: MIL = Mother-in-law? If so, please congratulate me.

Now, to the OP. Perhaps you merely have some impacted ear-wax. I know I did a few years ago, and the ear-nose-throat technician pulled some ear-wax globules out of my ears the size of marbles. Maybe this is your problem.

notcynical --congratulations!

Thanks for the tips, guys. You rock!

I have no medical experience whatsoever but I know that my sister has high blood pressure and when it goes up she can hear it in her ears. Also, I have heart arrythmia (?) meaning an irregular heartbeat. No big deal. Maybe your MIL has both? I would definately have her blood pressure checked out and have her keep a diary of the times she hears the thumping as well as if she is rested and what she ate or drank prior to the thumping. Oh and all meds taken up to 24 hours before.

I also highly recommend going to a diagnostic clinic for anything like this that is somewhat of a mystery. I have a little bit of a hangup about doctors because they seem to dismiss what they don’t immediately understand. And if they’ve been out of medical school for years they may be ignorant of certain conditions that aren’t in their line of specialty. A diagnostician may not have the expertise to deal with whatever condition it is but will better be able to figure it out and send her to someone who can help her.

Good luck.

When I was in college, I had the exact same thing that you described: steady thumping, no pain. I went to a doctor who checked my ear and just about everything else pretty thoroughly, but couldn’t find a thing. Finally, like pugluvr, it struck me that it seemed similar to a muscle twitch or hiccup. Basically, when I was feeling tense over classes, money, lack of social life, etc., I’d get so tense that I’d keep my jaw clenched without realizing it. Eventually, the muscles would fatigue and start spasming.

To make it stop, I just gently massaged the side of my jaw and tried to let my face go slack, and it worked almost immediately. From that point on, whenever I’d feel a twitch, I’d relax my jaw a little and it would go away as soon as it started. Within a month or two, the twitches stopped coming at all.

I’m not a doctor, though. Your MIL shoudl still see the specialist, but maybe ask if it might be a muscle twitch.

I have two kinds of tinnitus…one a changing pitch frequency sound and the other what I termed “the night armies” when I was a kid. It was a somewhat rythmic sound to me that sounded like a thousand marchers. I think I had it every night of my life before I was six.

When I saw my ENT last year (ears, nose throat specialist) he was quite interested in the type of tinnitus that I had, and yes, i had both kinds. However he never told me which one meant what or what caused either.

Both are annoying to me now, but when I was young I wasnt too afraid of “long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night” because heck, I had a whole ARMY!

I have something similar, I know what is making the sound but not why I hear it. I hear myself blinking or rather my eyes moving under my closed eyelids when I’m trying to go to sleep, I think it’s always with one ear in the pillow. Eventually my attention wanders and I don’t notice/hear it again, till the next time. It’s not an every night occurence. Might have something to do with colds or my head feeling stuffy.