Why does my ear "fizz"?

I have a history of ear problems and also a history of having had tubes inserted to drain my middle ear. At the moment, I am tube-free (and have been for at least 10 years), but subject to hearing problems stemming from fluid building up behind the eardrum.

In the last three months or so, I’ve noticed a new phenomenon happening on relatively rare occasions (three times in the last three months). When I’m lying in bed, I’ll start to have “static” or “fizz” or high-speed popping in my left ear. It almost sounds like I have a hole in my eardrum and the air pressure differential from my breathing is making the “flap” vibrate. But obviously I have no idea if that’s even possible. It’s not painful or even sense-able except through the sound…in other words, I can’t FEEL any sensation that appears to be associated with it.

The sounds last for several minutes (once it lasted for at least 10 minutes and made me crazy thinking I would never get to sleep because of it), sometimes constantly and sometimes intermittently. I can sometimes make it stop by stopping up the ear with my finger and sometimes that doesn’t work. I have no idea what’s “normal” for this phenomenon, since it hasn’t happened often enough yet to be able to even get a baseline normal experience.

Anyone have any idea what’s going on? I haven’t mentioned it to my doctor yet, mostly because I haven’t actually had an appointment since this started and partly because it really hasn’t happened often enough to motivate me to call and make a special one.

Are these associated with fluid in your outer ear? I get it, too, when my ears are full and need to drain, but it could just be air pressure equalizing. (I had tubes once, too, and now I have permanent holes in both ears. Getting a cold makes my ears run.)

I can’t say that I’ve noticed any correlation. I generally don’t get fluid in my outer ear at all.

Might be tinnitus, in which case it’s the inner ear doing it.

No, this is different from my normal tinnitus. This is a “real” sound, not a background buzz.

Maybe you have spiders in your ears.

It may not be related to what you’re describing, but I sometimes get a fast clicking noise while lying in bed that goes away if I consciously relax all my jaw, neck, and face muscles. It can be hard to maintain the relaxation but I get instant audible feedback as soon as I start to tense up. The tension I’m describing is not extreme at all, just normal how-my-face-is stuff.