October 12th, 2017 | Ask an Audiologist | by Mike Prangley

Ask an Audiologist: I Hear a Ringing Noise When I Swallow

Ask an Audiologist

Hello, Every time I swallow I feel a sort of ringing noise, like a cave sound.

Audiologist Response

Hi there,

I used to work in an Otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat) office and this was often a common complaint we would hear. When you swallow, chew, or yawn, the eustachian tube – which connects the middle ear to the back of your throat – opens to allow the pressure inside your ear to be the same as the external environment. This equalises the pressure and can cause almost a popping like sound to occur. If there’s anything blocking the opening of the tube in the middle ear space, or even in the ear canal itself, it’s possible that the tube isn’t opening and closing the way it’s should. This effect can create that cave like sound you’re experiencing. If someone has allergy issues (this time of the year is bad for this) like a cold, debris in the ear canal or even an issue with TMJ (temporo-mandibular joint), it could account for this as well. Typically, the sensation you’re feeling is more of an annoyance and often goes away with time.

I would definitely suggest having a free hearing assessment done by a Hearing Solutions clinician to determine whether there’s any debris in the ear canal and whether your tympanic membranes (eardrums) are moving the way they should. A small machine called a Tympanometer is commonly used in our clinics to assess the middle ear functioning. A thorough case history and an assessment of your hearing will also be completed. If the clinician determines that further medical intervention is necessary, they can discuss the options with you and send a report along to your doctor.

Thanks again for your question. Let me know how it goes.

Mike Prangley is an Audiologist registered with CASLPO working for Hearing Solutions. Currently, Mike sees patients at the Masonville Place Hearing Solutions clinic in London, Ontario.

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