Thumping/drumming in one ear

Posted by kerryf88 @kerryf88, Mar 15, 2019

It started about a week ago, I was walking my dog and suddenly I hear this rapid drumming sound in my right ear, twice, it doesn’t match my heartbeat at all, the second time it happened I covered my right ear with a finger and it’s gone. And since then I’ve been having occasional rapid thumps (3-4 thumps) in the right ear, maybe once or twice a day or sometimes none in a day, no common trigger, just happens randomly during the day. I don’t know why? When the thumping happens it feels like that ear is partially blocked like under water.

I’m currently experiencing slight dizziness due to bad postures from a few weeks ago, which leads to sore neck and shoulder, not sure if this could be related?

@kittyrushing

My thumping IS my heartbeat, I will research the magnesium in connection with pulsatile tinnitus. Thanks for any advice.

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Yes if you look it up many studies say magnesium deficiency can cause hearing loss, thumping in ears, muscle twitching etc.

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@tootie42

Yes if you look it up many studies say magnesium deficiency can cause hearing loss, thumping in ears, muscle twitching etc.

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Thank you for your input. I am going to try it.

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For 3 weeks now I have been kept from sleeping due to continuous episodes of percussive thumps in my ear — 7 – 12 times in a row in an arrhythmic volley. After this sequence, it will pause for about 30 sec. and then resume. This is NOT associated with heartbeat. I can feel the vibration when I put my little finger in my ear. No change in head or body position – even trying to sleep sitting up – will stop it. No luck with massaging muscles around ear, pulling on ear lobes, cartilage, inserting an earplug deep in canal. My sleep dr. says my CPAP pressure is too low to cause this. Sometimes during day it will occur but not incessantly as at night. Will schedule ENT appt. tmw. Any insights? Thx.

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@variegata

For 3 weeks now I have been kept from sleeping due to continuous episodes of percussive thumps in my ear — 7 – 12 times in a row in an arrhythmic volley. After this sequence, it will pause for about 30 sec. and then resume. This is NOT associated with heartbeat. I can feel the vibration when I put my little finger in my ear. No change in head or body position – even trying to sleep sitting up – will stop it. No luck with massaging muscles around ear, pulling on ear lobes, cartilage, inserting an earplug deep in canal. My sleep dr. says my CPAP pressure is too low to cause this. Sometimes during day it will occur but not incessantly as at night. Will schedule ENT appt. tmw. Any insights? Thx.

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Hi @variegata, welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect. You'll notice that I moved your message to this existing discussion about thumping or drumming in one ear. I did this so you can connect with @tonyinmi @kerryf88 @kittyrushing @scottybach @morninglory @redhead63 @mikemcewen @akacha @cls91383 and others.

You might also be interested in reviewing these discussions:
– rapid thumping sound in left ear: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/rapid-thumping-sound-in-left-ear/
– Thumping in right ear, only triggered by sound https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/thumping-in-right-ear-only-triggered-by-sound/

I can imagine that this must be driving you crazy, and lack of sleep isn't helping. I'll be interested what you learn from the ENT tomorrow.

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@variegata

For 3 weeks now I have been kept from sleeping due to continuous episodes of percussive thumps in my ear — 7 – 12 times in a row in an arrhythmic volley. After this sequence, it will pause for about 30 sec. and then resume. This is NOT associated with heartbeat. I can feel the vibration when I put my little finger in my ear. No change in head or body position – even trying to sleep sitting up – will stop it. No luck with massaging muscles around ear, pulling on ear lobes, cartilage, inserting an earplug deep in canal. My sleep dr. says my CPAP pressure is too low to cause this. Sometimes during day it will occur but not incessantly as at night. Will schedule ENT appt. tmw. Any insights? Thx.

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Hi folks, this is an update to my condition, which has been diagnosed as Middle Ear Myoclonus — although that doesn't tell the full story. I have wended my way through four appointments, PCP and ENT specialists (audiology, ear and nose) and each provider has found everything perfectly normal. They have been sympathetic and apologetic about having no clue as to cause, much less a cure. Some were aware of the phenomenon, but it is uncommon and unstudied. For those for whom the torment is ruinous, there is a procedure to cut the tensor tympani or stapedius muscle(s) that can be causing the spasms (actually hitting the eardrum) — but it is not without risks or lasting consequences.

I have done a lot of online research and following links, and can tell you what triggers my sleep-disruptive spasms. Perhaps the below will help you in your own search for understanding if not relief.

I eventually learned either on this site as well as the MEM Facebook group that 1) the tensor tympani or stapedius muscle(s) can be spasming and thus actually hitting the eardrum, thus the thumping is known as objective tinnitus (actually happening in the ear), not subjective tinnitus (a brain signal mimicking sensation & or sound). 2) yawns and burps can trigger the spasms. This was my first a-ha discovery, as I knew that sometime full-body yawns or small burps (not belches) during the day would trigger the spasms (although the spasms were brief, unlike when lying down on my back, which is how I sleep).

I began looking for more about the yawn connection, and discovered an autonomic response called sleep pandiculation — those feet-to-head, full-body stretches we do when waking up from sleep — and sometimes during the wee hours when transitioning out of deep sleep. Just like cats and dogs, when they stretch, reposition and go back to sleep.

Et voila! Those stretches turned out to be the trigger for my MEM attacks! There is is a vibration that rises up my body in sync with the foot-to-head stretch… and when the vibe gets to my head, the spasms are triggered. Fast, hard thumping that runs in continuous "phrases" of arrhythmic thumps with a few seconds in between each "phrase". For up to two hours. (OMG) Not pulsatile, not typewriter tinnitus. A muscle actually pounding on the eardrum over and over.

So…an interesting discovery, and confirms that this is a physical phenomenon. I shared this with my ear and nose doctors. They also found it interesting, but as to why is this happening? No ideas. A few doctors speculated anxiety or other "behavioral health" issues. Sigh.

A few encouraging notes as to controlling the spasms. 1) My PCP put me on Flonase 2x/day, which seems to have dampened the severity and length of the spasms. 2) I have had some success in waking myself when the pandiculation has begun and managing to stop it before it gets to my head, which thus prevents it from triggering the spasms. But that's hit or miss, as it's not easy to rouse myself from deep sleep to stop the pandiculation from fully traveling. 3) Recently I have discovered (I sleep on my back) that once the spasming starts and wakes me (argh), I can lift my head a little and tilt my chin down until almost touching my chest — and this can often interrupt the spasming before it gets really wound up. That would suggest a nerve action is involved in the loop, but so far no doctor has been curious enough to investigate. And in all fairness, perhaps it is one of those unsolved idiopathic mysteries of my human body (lucky me).

If any of you can relate to the above, great! And let me know.

BTW, I reco you check out Eustachian tube dysfunction and ear-pressure equalization techniques (like divers do) to see if that helps your tinnitus. That was ruled out for me, but can cause the thumping for some people.

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@variegata

Hi folks, this is an update to my condition, which has been diagnosed as Middle Ear Myoclonus — although that doesn't tell the full story. I have wended my way through four appointments, PCP and ENT specialists (audiology, ear and nose) and each provider has found everything perfectly normal. They have been sympathetic and apologetic about having no clue as to cause, much less a cure. Some were aware of the phenomenon, but it is uncommon and unstudied. For those for whom the torment is ruinous, there is a procedure to cut the tensor tympani or stapedius muscle(s) that can be causing the spasms (actually hitting the eardrum) — but it is not without risks or lasting consequences.

I have done a lot of online research and following links, and can tell you what triggers my sleep-disruptive spasms. Perhaps the below will help you in your own search for understanding if not relief.

I eventually learned either on this site as well as the MEM Facebook group that 1) the tensor tympani or stapedius muscle(s) can be spasming and thus actually hitting the eardrum, thus the thumping is known as objective tinnitus (actually happening in the ear), not subjective tinnitus (a brain signal mimicking sensation & or sound). 2) yawns and burps can trigger the spasms. This was my first a-ha discovery, as I knew that sometime full-body yawns or small burps (not belches) during the day would trigger the spasms (although the spasms were brief, unlike when lying down on my back, which is how I sleep).

I began looking for more about the yawn connection, and discovered an autonomic response called sleep pandiculation — those feet-to-head, full-body stretches we do when waking up from sleep — and sometimes during the wee hours when transitioning out of deep sleep. Just like cats and dogs, when they stretch, reposition and go back to sleep.

Et voila! Those stretches turned out to be the trigger for my MEM attacks! There is is a vibration that rises up my body in sync with the foot-to-head stretch… and when the vibe gets to my head, the spasms are triggered. Fast, hard thumping that runs in continuous "phrases" of arrhythmic thumps with a few seconds in between each "phrase". For up to two hours. (OMG) Not pulsatile, not typewriter tinnitus. A muscle actually pounding on the eardrum over and over.

So…an interesting discovery, and confirms that this is a physical phenomenon. I shared this with my ear and nose doctors. They also found it interesting, but as to why is this happening? No ideas. A few doctors speculated anxiety or other "behavioral health" issues. Sigh.

A few encouraging notes as to controlling the spasms. 1) My PCP put me on Flonase 2x/day, which seems to have dampened the severity and length of the spasms. 2) I have had some success in waking myself when the pandiculation has begun and managing to stop it before it gets to my head, which thus prevents it from triggering the spasms. But that's hit or miss, as it's not easy to rouse myself from deep sleep to stop the pandiculation from fully traveling. 3) Recently I have discovered (I sleep on my back) that once the spasming starts and wakes me (argh), I can lift my head a little and tilt my chin down until almost touching my chest — and this can often interrupt the spasming before it gets really wound up. That would suggest a nerve action is involved in the loop, but so far no doctor has been curious enough to investigate. And in all fairness, perhaps it is one of those unsolved idiopathic mysteries of my human body (lucky me).

If any of you can relate to the above, great! And let me know.

BTW, I reco you check out Eustachian tube dysfunction and ear-pressure equalization techniques (like divers do) to see if that helps your tinnitus. That was ruled out for me, but can cause the thumping for some people.

Jump to this post

This is such great information. I recently started sleeping almost sitting up. It seems that if I don't allow a pressure to build up in my ear, it helps with the thumping. And you are right. It is so fast, it was no where near the beat of my heart. I thought I was hearing all four chambers beat. My husband told me that wasn't possible – I believe him.
I appreciate your sharing your information. I must say that I can sleep on either side of my head and no thumping, as long as I am sleeping upright. I am OK with that. It is so much better than waking up nervous from this rapid thumping. I do still feel pressure in my ear. The ENT and GP both see no physical fluid, but there is definitely pressure there to me. I appreciate all the support. I am seeing one more ENT next week. Hopefully I will have similar response – that it is nothing major to worry about. In the meantime I have started addressing salty foods and stress. My family doctor did ask that I lose a few pounds and add more fruits and veggies to my diet. (My BP was a little higher than I have ever had. She attributes it to stress from work and diet.)

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@ethanmcconkey

Hi @kerryf88 and welcome to Connect. That must be frustrating having this thumping in your ear.

i wanted to introduce you to fellow Connect members @kittyrushing @goodoldboy68 and @miscy13 as they have all mentioned ear thumping in the past and may be able to offer you support.

Back to you @kerryf88 when you cover your ear with a finger does that get rid of the thumps or do they go away on their own?

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I have thumping in 1 eardrum due to noises. Just normal talk. I have to cover my ear and it helps. It even thumps when i move my mouth. Its been happening for over a month. I went to the ENT but nothing. Its getting maddening. The only thing that helps is putting a finger in my ear

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@tigerpride

I have thumping in 1 eardrum due to noises. Just normal talk. I have to cover my ear and it helps. It even thumps when i move my mouth. Its been happening for over a month. I went to the ENT but nothing. Its getting maddening. The only thing that helps is putting a finger in my ear

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@tigerpride-thumping in ear drum sometimes happens. It can be common over time due to exertion, temperature changes and strain on an ear drum. The ear drum is a muscle just like other muscles in the body. It’s job is to cushion, protect from sound. Sometimes stress or strain can make an ear drum hypersensitive too sound. The thumping is just the ear drum “straining” so to speak to dampen the sound. Most people will got to an ENT. They won’t really explain much or take that good of care unless they see something that they can make money on. They are surgeons first and foremost. They do not want to be in the clinic discussing subjective nasal and ear symptoms. Once you develop an annoying sound it’s easy to focus on it. I would recommend finding someone who deals in Somatization therapy, who can help you to reprogram how you feel/hear it and hopefully it can fade into the background and not be so bothersome.

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@tigerpride

I have thumping in 1 eardrum due to noises. Just normal talk. I have to cover my ear and it helps. It even thumps when i move my mouth. Its been happening for over a month. I went to the ENT but nothing. Its getting maddening. The only thing that helps is putting a finger in my ear

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@tigerpride Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect, a place to give and get support.

You are experiencing "thumping" an eardrum and despite seeing a specialist you have not found a cause or resolution.

Members like @melissac13 @variegata @mackmoving @scottybach @morninglory @redhead63 @mikemcewen have expereicne discussing this topic and may be able to help answer questions and/or offer support.

Listed below are three previous discussions that you might find of interest. You may want to scroll through the posts to find information and suggestions.
– rapid thumping sound in left ear: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/rapid-thumping-sound-in-left-ear/
– Thumping in right ear, only triggered by sound https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/thumping-in-right-ear-only-triggered-by-sound/
– Pulsatile tinnitus https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pulsatile-tinnitus-1/

May I ask if your provider offered any follow-up testing or suggestions and if not, have you considered getting a second opinion?

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@ethanmcconkey

Hi @kerryf88 and welcome to Connect. That must be frustrating having this thumping in your ear.

i wanted to introduce you to fellow Connect members @kittyrushing @goodoldboy68 and @miscy13 as they have all mentioned ear thumping in the past and may be able to offer you support.

Back to you @kerryf88 when you cover your ear with a finger does that get rid of the thumps or do they go away on their own?

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@ethanmcconkey yes the sound goes away when I plug my right ear.

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@omcclellan

@ethanmcconkey yes the sound goes away when I plug my right ear.

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Hello @omcclellan, Welcome to Connect, an online community where patients and caregivers share their experiences, find support and exchange information with others. Listed below are three previous discussions that you might find of interest. You may want to scroll through the posts to find information and suggestions.
– rapid thumping sound in left ear: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/rapid-thumping-sound-in-left-ear/
– Thumping in right ear, only triggered by sound https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/thumping-in-right-ear-only-triggered-by-sound/
– Pulsatile tinnitus https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/pulsatile-tinnitus-1/

Have you discussed your symptoms with your doctor or an ENT specialist?

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