Is This Even Tinnitus? A Fast Tapping Sound That Might Be from a Muscle Twitching?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Matthieu, Jan 27, 2020.

    1. Matthieu

      Matthieu Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Hi all! All my research online about my symptoms have pointed to tinnitus... except for the description of the sound I hear, and its potential causes. So I'm looking for at least one person with the same symptom, to tell me if it really is a kind of tinnitus, and how they have dealt with it.

      To start with, I've had a mild tinnitus (a high-pitch sound in both ears) for as long as I can remember. It never bothered me, probably because I got it very progressively and long ago.

      Two weeks ago however, I started having a fast tapping sound in my right ear (about 8 beats per second, much faster than my heartbeat and not sync'd with it). I hear it only when I rest my head on a pillow (on my right side), or when I put an earplug in my right ear, or when I put on a headset with no music (however if I turn on the noise-cancelling feature of my headset, it makes the tapping quieter, rather than louder, contrary to what would be expected from tinnitus in a quieter environment).

      If you want an idea of how it sounds, tap on the middle of your nose with a finger, at an 8 beats per second frequency. The sound that propagates to your ear that way is basically what I hear (but only on my right side).

      I'm under the impression that this is a muscle twitching (and I can feel it a bit), though I'm unable to figure out which muscle. It's like a muscle is constantly vibrating somewhere, but I only hear it when something increases sound conduction across organic tissues (like putting my head on a pillow, putting a headset, or earplugs). Sometimes by massaging my temple while wearing an earplug I can find a point that, when pressed, makes the sound stop completely. The sound restarts as soon as I remove my finger.

      I've read about neck pain, TMJ, etc. and how they affect tinnitus. I do have frequent neck pain from working on a computer all day (even tough I optimized my desk and bought an ergonomic pillow for the night), but I can't find any source online linking neck pain to that specific kind of sound or muscular activity. It seems they all point to the "normal kind" of tinnitus.

      I saw an ENT today. It was the fasted appointment of my life, literally, the guy looked into my ears and my throat, said "everything is normal, you have tinnitus, I'm scheduling you for an hearing test, good bye," and the nurse handed me a flyer about tinnitus on the way out. 30 seconds, tops, I was astonished by the lack of empathy.

      My biggest problem is that this noise is deteriorating my sleep: the right side is my preferred position when sleeping so even if I start the night on my left or on my back, I eventually turn, hear the noise, wake up, and I have to find another position. But the worst is that this noise prevents me from wearing earplugs, the only solution I had found so far to my snoring girlfriend.

      So if anyone of you experienced the same symptoms, I am all ears about what you did to manage it.
      • Hug Hug x 2
    2. Mrrrrrrr

      Mrrrrrrr Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably neck pain
      Similar here.
      Having tinnitus for a long while, and it's very likely because of neck/shoulder issues since I work in front of a computer all day. I took a hearing test a year ago and it shows a clear loss at a specific range of frequency (might be overlapping with my high-pitch tinnitus).
      I also notice the tapping sound recently, only from the left ear, particularly after I put my head on a pillow on my left for a while. It sounds like some noise made by soft tissues (eardrum probably) and I can feel the twitch oftentimes. It's roughly once per sec and irregular (not in sync with heartbeat). But it seems related to the body movement, say breath or open mouth. It's very annoying and slightly affects my sleep.
      One more thing I wanna share is I am having a postnasal drip and I feel some fullness in the ear. Don't know how related this might be.
    3. MrCrybaby

      MrCrybaby Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2014, 10/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      School Band, Noxious Car Radio
      It sounds like you have some sort of irregular middle ear muscle contractions. This is part of the hyperacusis umbrella of symptoms, which includes TTTS and acoustic shock disorder. You can read more here:

      Unfortunately this symptom is poorly understood by science at this time. Try protecting when you are in loud environments and see if this improves symptoms. They may be set off by noise exposure, but have a delayed reaction.

      Otherwise try getting a nice massage for your neck and getting a more ergonomic set up at work. It won’t hurt to take care of yourself!
    4. Orions Pain

      Orions Pain Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I have the same issue. On top of my usual tinnitus I also have a bit of pulsatile tinnitus that comes and goes, so with ear plugs I get that consistent thumping sound and it almost feels like my ear plugs get pulled in and out

      I know it’s blood related because I can press down on my carotid artery in my neck and feel it moving around and pressing down causes the sound to stop (the pulsatile one)

      I also have ear spasms occasionally which I believe is TTTS. When they’re bad my entire ear feels like it vibrates and contracts, like a terrible hiccup non stop in my ear.

      When it’s not severe, it sounds like little thumps every 11 seconds or so (I counted lol) but I saw someone here describe it as the sound when someone tests a microphone, like the thump thump sound. I’ve had this after days where I was exposed to a good amount of noise (not a concert or anything) but like a restaurant and being in a car with someone loud and having a dinner party.
    5. Tybs

      Tybs Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Fall from stairs
      Welcome to medical industry. Btw, a hearing test is quite useless with your described symptom. I suppose the ENT did not explain what he intends to achieve with it?

      Next to my usual sounds, I have something a bit similar to your tapping, though way less intrusive. Roughly once every five minutes, I hear two or three "taps" in my left ear, pretty much the same rhythm every time. I only hear it when my other sounds are quiet though: and while it scared me a bit the first few times, it doesn't happen enough to bother me anymore.

      I suspect a muscle as well. Are there any therapists nearby with a specialism in tinnitus? Or maybe the specialism is not even needed, there might be exercises that influence the muscles in that area.
      • Informative Informative x 1
    6. Judy795

      Judy795 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      I also have the exact same symptoms as the OP. It just came on a few days ago although I have always had very high pitched tinnitus in both ears. I have had a perforated eardrum in the right ear and an open tube in that ear, but the left ear is my better one.
      I am going try some magnesium at night as mentioned by another post. Maybe a muscle relaxer instead as an experiment, or perhaps a motion sickness pill like Bonine might make it go away.
    7. Judy795

      Judy795 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      The magnesium seems to have worked for me. The tapping sound is gone even with ear plugs. Two a day. And I am sleeping sounder. Still have high pitch I have always had. I had terrible ear infections until my 40s.

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