Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

What Is That Ear Fluttering Sound & Should I Be Concerned?

Most people notice fluttering sounds in the ear from time to time. In fact, a fluttering sound in one or both ears is common. People who experience the fluttering sound in their ears may describe it as having butterfly wings flapping or hearing helicopter blades.

In some instances, the fluttering sound can indicate a complication occurring with the intricately delicate structures of your inner ear. Although many inner-ear and middle-ear fluttering instances are one-offs, other cases may not go away on their own if left unattended.

Experiencing ear fluttering sounds and ear problems can cause frustration and even lead to distress. It can even make you become more fixated on the causes of sounds in the ear instead of what’s going on in your life. Some patients who experience consistent ear fluttering report: 

  • A lack of sleep,
  • Increased anxiety,
  • Reduced work performance, 
  • Hindered school performance, 
  • Depression, and 
  • Decreased mood.

If you’re experiencing ear fluttering that causes impaired hearing, hearing loss, or high blood pressure, you should seek medical attention from a healthcare professional. While some people opt to visit an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist, an equal number of people visit an audiologist for treatment. Let’s take a closer look at ear fluttering.

What Is Fluttering of the Ear Middle Ear Muscle Dysfunction?

While most people call it an ear flutter, it may be tinnitus or a rare, treatable condition called stapedial tendon myoclonus. Stapedial tendon myoclonus is a very uncommon condition that involves the rhythmic contraction of your stapedial tendon.

It can cause a wealth of symptoms, but the most common one is tinnitus. The condition can occur in both ears or one. Most people impacted by the condition report the sound of a rapidly beating heart or like a butterfly flapping its wings.

Diagnosing ear fluttering can be challenging for practitioners because guidelines for this condition have yet to be created.

What Causes Ear Fluttering Sensation?

Although the condition may be the result of a stressful period, other patients experience it without any known cause. Some of the most common known causes of ear fluttering are explained below.

Tinnitus Can Cause Fluttering in the Ear

The fluttering noise can be caused by a condition called tinnitus. According to a 2016 study, tinnitus affects anywhere from 8% to 25% of people in the United States. Tinnitus can be defined as the perception of ringing in the ear or another sound without stimulus from outside.

Tinnitus is usually caused by damage to the cochlea, which are tiny sensory hair cells found in the inner ear. Although this is usually associated with those as they age, tinnitus can be the result of extended exposure to loud sounds and noises.

Some cases of tinnitus are associated with having high levels of stress. For many patients, hearing loss is connected with tinnitus.

Types of Tinnitus Sounds

Tinnitus is a condition that can last anywhere from 16 up to 48 hours. Some more extreme cases can last from one to two weeks. There are two broad categories of tinnitus:

  • Affecting 99% of those with the condition, subjective tinnitus is when the noises are only audible to the patient. It’s connected to auditory and neurological reactions to hearing loss. Yet, sometimes other factors can play a role as well. 
  • As the rarest of the condition, objective tinnitus is when the noises are audible to others. This phenomenon is usually produced by internal functions in the body, either by the circulatory (blood flow) system or somatic (movement of voluntary muscles). 

While some people may hear a buzzing, clicking, or a ringing sound, other tinnitus symptoms and tinnitus noises may include:

  • Crackling noises
  • Tapping noises
  • Throbbing noises
  • Twitching sounds
  • Ticking noises
  • Fluttering sounds
  • Drum-like thumping
  • Gushing noises
  • And other sounds

What Causes Tinnitus

Tinnitus can be caused by several situations, such as:

  • Loud sounds, such as exposure to gunshots, explosions, loud music, and more
  • Certain medicines may include side effects of tinnitus
  • Injury to the neck, ears, or head
  • Ear wax blockage
  • Degeneration of bones in the middle ear
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Jaw popping joint (TMJ)

How Is Tinnitus Treated?

In terms of persistent tinnitus, treatments vary greatly. While no treatment can cure tinnitus, it can relieve symptoms. These treatments include:

  • Tinnitus retraining therapy
  • Hearing aids
  • Medication and certain prescription drugs

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Eustachian tube dysfunction is one of the more common causes of fluttering in the ear. The eustachian tube is the tiny tube that connects the rear of the nose and the upper part of your throat.

Your eustachian tube is tasked with circulating air in your middle ear, which helps maintain a balance between external and internal air pressure. This is often experienced when you change altitudes and feel a popping sound in your ear.

In the case of eustachian tube dysfunction, fluid accumulation will occur. And when this happens, it causes the pressure to spike higher than the normal range to create a fluttering sensation when you open your mouth to yawn.

High Blood Pressure Can Cause Ear Fluttering Sound

Another very common cause of fluttering sounds in the ear is high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, it can cause blood to push against the delicate structures of your middle ear. And this can cause a fluttering sensation.

The fluttering can be worsened by alcohol or increased stress as well as caffeine consumption. All of these factors can make the tinnitus and flutter worse. Conditions associated with blood vessels that may have worsening effects on blood pressure include:

  • Malformation of capillaries
  • Turbulent blood flow
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Neck tumors

Sinus Infection May Cause Fluttering in the Ear

Most often caused by a bacterial infection, sinus congestion and a sinus infection can lead to ear fluttering. This is because sinus infections can cause your sinuses to become filled with fluid, which leads to increased pain and sinus pressure. 

The spike in facial pressure often leads to dizziness and fluttering in the ear. It can also create headaches and make you feel nauseous.

How Is Fluttering In the Ear Treated?

If you experience fluttering in the ear, there are a number of ways a medical professional or wellness professional can help provide relief. Some of these treatments and therapies are explained below.

Steam Treatments and Therapies

If you are hearing fluttering or other noises associated because of sinus congestion, you may be able to use steam to relieve clogged ears. Simply fill a bowl with steaming water and place your head over it while under a towel. This can help your ears get unblocked.

Manage Your Blood Pressure

If you suffer from hypertension, most doctors suggest treating it with medication. In treating your high blood pressure, you may find relief from the fluttering sound.

Valsalva Management Strategies

To perform Valsalva management strategies, pinch your nostrils while keeping your mouth closed. Then take a deep breath through your mouth and attempt to blow air out of your nose. 

If you hear a slight popping noise, it could indicate your eustachian tubes are open again. If you do choose to try this maneuver, do not do so with excessive force because it can cause irreversible damage to your eardrum.

Alter Your Eating Habits

As with most conditions in life, you may be able to alter your eating habits to find relief. Start by drinking at least eight glasses of water every day to prevent dehydration. 

Dehydration can cause cramps in the mandibular joints, shoulders, and neck. Another way to limit dehydration is to moderate alcohol consumption.

You should also make sure to get the daily recommended values of magnesium and calcium through your diet. Ensuring sufficient amounts of these vitamins can help prevent ear fluttering.

Lifestyle Alterations

A healthier holistic lifestyle — with respect to any known health conditions — can remedy many ailments. Consider working with wellness professionals to discuss your sleep and exercise patterns to potentially decrease stress levels. 

Your health care professional may suggest you keep a journal to notate the times when you feel the fluttering sound. This can help your health care professional best isolate the cause, such as feeling tired, high periods of stress, etc.

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C.

When it comes to tinnitus symptoms and ear fluttering, there are no one-size-fits-all approaches. As such, the team at North Shore Hearing P.C. will always facilitate a systematic discussion surrounding ways to individualize treatments. 

We will explore all of your treatment options and guide you to the best solution to minimize symptoms and help you achieve your hearing goals.

Contact North Shore Hearing P.C. today.