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Vibration in ear

Vibration and fluttering in ears: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Vibration in the ear and fluttering ear are often not just sensations, but a symptom of potential disorders. Here's what you need to know about potential causes and whether it's time to contact a medical professional.

Why is my ear vibrating?

The sensation of vibration in the ear does not have a single cause, but many. It is mainly associated with tinnitus, but there are several other less common causes to consider. It is important to identify the underlying cause in order to understand how to treat vibration in the ear.

When ear vibration accompanies the sensation of fluttering ears, and a simultaneous ringing or noise in the ears, this is referred to as pulsatile tinnitus. In this case the vibration is combined with the sound of one's heartbeat in the ears, which is perceived as a pulsation due to the passage of blood through the blood vessels.

The Eustachian tube is the tube that connects the back of the mouth with the middle ear (tympanic cavity), and serves to aerate it and maintain the pressure balance between the two surfaces of the eardrum. When for various reasons (e.g., changes in altitude) the balance is disturbed, there is a sensation of "muffled" ear.

All pathological conditions that increase mucus and earwax production (rhinosinusitis, tonsillitis, otitis, etc.) make the tube's task more difficult. Also the imbalance of the muscles of chewing and swallowing can give rise to a malfunction of the Eustachian Tube. Any of these Eustachian tube dysfunctions can lead to unpleasant sensations and, among them, vibration in ear.

Alterations and dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint can in some cases cause the perception of vibrating ear and tinnitus or amplify its intensity. Some components of the middle ear share a common origin with the mandible and TMJ.

An altered TMJ function can be caused by asymmetries, dental malocclusions, bruxism, stress, which are responsible for excessive contracture of the masticatory muscles.  An altered nerve signal from the masticatory muscles and temporo mandibular joints can interfere with auditory perceptions and cause the sensation of a vibrating ear.

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the inner part of the nose caused by an allergen (such as pollen or dust). This condition can result in an inflammatory state with subsequent production of mucus, that can turn into earwax. This can create Eustachian Tube Dysfunction and, consequently, the vibrating ear sensation.

Being exposed to loud noises can cause two main types of hearing loss: temporary hearing threshold shift, which is often perceived as a temporary inability to hear after being exposed to excessively loud noises, and permanent hearing threshold shift. 

Head and neck trauma can also be a cause for tinnitus which results in headaches, memory loss and dizziness. In the presence of tinnitus, however, it is always advisable to seek medical attention. 

Some researchers suggest that dysfunctional contractions of the muscles in the middle ear can cause fluttering sounds and vibration in ears. Doctors call this rare condition middle ear myoclonus (MEM). Among the others, this condition was analyzed in the study Middle Ear Myoclonus: Two Informative Cases and a Systematic Discussion of Myogenic Tinnitus.
Man with earache and tinnitus

Do you think you suffer from tinnitus?

If you think you may be suffering from tinnitus, schedule an appointment at one of our hearing centers that specializes in this condition. A Miracle-Ear professional will examine your hearing, free of charge, and advise you on the next possible steps.

Ear vibration: diagnosis

If an Eustachian Tube Dysfunction is the most likely cause of the vibration in ear, an ENT examination will be needed, to discover potential ear conditions. Otherwise, if TMJ disorders are the most likely cause, another option would be also to consult a dentist experienced in Temporo Mandibular Joint (TMJ) problems, and especially in TMJ-ear relationships.

How do I stop my ear from vibrating?

Treatment of vibration in the ear is not unique, as it depends on treating the underlying cause of this condition. Here are some treatment options depending on the cause:

  • Some medications may lead to vibration in ear and ear fluttering. These medications are called "ototoxic" and can create problems to ear health as side effect. In this case it is good to see a doctor to know if some medication or dosage can potentially create this problem.
  • If a TMJ disorder is the cause, a multidisciplinary treatment may be needed. That require treatment by the dentist, the physiotherapist and osteopath, and maxillofacial surgeon.
  • If Eustachian Tube Dysfunction is the cause, the focus of treatment is often on the nose due to the disturbance of tube ventilation and the resulting insufficient ventilation caused by the accumulation of phlegm. To ensure smooth ventilation again, doctors often recommend: nasal wash with saline solution, decongestant nasal sprays or decongestant drugs. Tubular catarrh therapy may also require medical interventions, like aspiration of the mucus, placement of a tube to aid for ventilation or surgical removal of any obstacles to ventilation.
  • If tinnitus is the cause, hearing aids can be the best treatment option. In fact, state-of-the-art hearing aids incorporate tinnitus masking, that helps dealing with tinnitus. Learn more on Miracle-Ear hearing aids for tinnitus!

In most cases, a consultation with your doctor can help determine if vibration in your ear could be a symptom of a more serious problem that could be affecting your hearing health. In this case, immediate treatment can definitely help reduce the problems related to your ear. Depending on the patient, the doctor may suggest some specific tests, including a hearing test. Remember, you can recieve free hearing test at the Miracle-Ear center closest to you. 

You may experience vibration in ears during and after a flight: this is typical of a dysfunction of the Eustachian tube, which produces a barotrauma or pressure change trauma. It is best to see a doctor for a correct diagnosis and treatment.
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Hearing aids for tinnitus

Interested in exploring hearing aids? Discover tinnitus hearing aid, that can be customized and tailored to each individual, the tinnitus noiser is available in both the ITE and BTE models.

Why do I hear vibration in my ear when talking or yawning?

When yawning or talking you may feel a vibration in your ear or a popping sound. This is due to the formation of a plug of earwax in the Eustachian tube. For this reason, it is also possible to have the sensation of a fluttering ear when you move your head, chew, talk yawn. But don't panic; this sensation is only temporary and will disappear quickly.

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