rattling sensation in ear

Hi guys,

I have a problem with my left ear that I hope you could provide some guidance on: At certain frequencies and intensities of sounds (and
this varies from day to day) I feel a sensation of physical rattling, in my ear. This has been happening on and off for the past 5 years (I'm 26). I saw an audiologist probably 4 years ago when it first bothered me and he said he didn't know what was causing it, and otherwise the ears were diagnosed as normal. Lately the problem has been getting much worse - sometimes I experience the rattling even when I speak loud enough; pubs or anywhere with moderate music set it off. Any ideas? It is particularly set off by high pitched noises. I dont think it's tinnitus, as my ringing is only due to real external sources of noise.

Thanks for any guidance or advice.

  • Hi, I have the same exact symptoms since a noise trauma 3 years ago. I get the broken speaker sounds also when I am talking, driving etc. . If somebody wants to talk about that issue or found out what caused this please reach out to me. 

    Maybe some people are interested in creating a facebook group or something. It is very cool to know that I am not alone with this issue.

  • Hi everyone, I think I can be of some help. I have this problem too. I'm trying to work out what's going on with the help of an ENT. Don't know the exact cause as yet but please read on...

    The only thing I know for certain is that the underlying cause is due to a physical property called resonance. Resonance can greatly affect vibrating structures e.g. your middle ear, mechanical components in machines, and even bridges (try googling Tacoma Narrows). Another oft quoted example of resonance is when a singer (typically at high pitch) uses her voice to break a wine glass.

    In terms of the problem at hand, you'll notice that the shrills, rattles etc described in this forum only occur at certain pitches or tones (i.e. frequency). Well, the structures of the ear have natural frequencies at which they vibrate. If you hear a sound at a matching frequency, the amplitude (i.e. the level or amount) of the vibrations (and therefore the perception of sound) in the ear is increased. This leads to the abnormal shrillness, rattling etc we've all been experiencing in some form or other.


    After following this up with doctors I'm pretty sure that - at least in my own case - this dysfunction is caused by ear wax. Turned out to be a pretty straightforward explanation in the end. I guess the ear wax is altering the resonant properties of either the ear canal or the ear drum itself.

  • I've been struggling with this in my left ear since 2005. I've always described it as a cheap/broken speaker kind of distortion. I have never thought to search "rattling in my ear" until now, and I found you all reporting your problems exactly as I have described mine so frustratingly to others, including my ENT who has been perplexed the whole time. I have had tubes put in three times and I'm never certain if it actually helped or if I was subject to my own optimism bias. It has never gone away entirely but does get worse and better, depending on what, I still don't know. I am a musician so this has been terrible. My fiddle and harmonica set this off as easily as my voice sometimes. It's so bad that I can't play or sing anymore when it's bad. I also play concertina which is a bit better because it's further from my face, but eventually this sets it off too. It seems worse when I am sick with typical sore throat swollen nodes symptoms. I also associate the distortion with muscle spasms in my left ear, but those weren't a thing until about five years ago. Now they occur together. I seem to be okay for the first five minutes of playing then I reach a saturation point and everything sets it off. I used to plug my left ear when I played but this seems to have made it even more sensitive, so I have stopped doing this and either mute my instrument as much as possible or stop playing. Playing with others is exceptionally difficult. Other, more mundane things that set it off are my sink in the morning, rifling through silverware drawer or box of bolts or plastic plumbing, and speaker conversations on my smartphone. It's awful! I hate it!!! I also feel a slight constant pain in that ear. My ENT called it tinnitus, but it's not. It's not a ringing (which I do get sometimes but pales in comparison). It's closer to hyperaccusis but how is it that my right ear is perfectly fine? I often massage the muscle behind my ear lobe and I want to think this helps but it never makes it go away and I'm still not sure if this isn't just my own optimism at work. Has any progress been made on this? I have some random troubleshooting questions for all of you. Is this page still active? I'm curious how many of you have had experience with pain killers setting this off? I am slightly overweight is that a possible explanation? I enjoy smoking pot sometimes while I drink and this seems to make it worse. Has anyone tried the Botox treatment? If this page is somewhat inactive, who might be interested in creating a private Facebook group?
  • Hello fellow travellers,

    I have the same. Seems to have progressed and become more noticeable this last year. I have had tinnitus for at least 8 years. Lots of loud music in my younger days.

    I'm almost frightened to say but are we not just experiencing a milder form of recruitment? Noise damage affects 4k, 4k noises seem to aggregate the condition? Clinking glasses and whistling are among those frequencies.. Are we hearing other feedback frequencies because our ears are poorly from noise?
  • masquerade said:

    Sounds like you all have a degree of hypericusis

    Sensitivity to sound

    Can affect people with tinnitus

    i'm starting to suspect H and TTTS aren't the same thing, that the latter might be what's getting helped by botox, tenotomy or grommets while the former would be neuropathic pain. in tinnitustalk we're trying to looking into this and it's a mess.