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Echo in the Ear: Causes and Treatment

Do you ever find yourself hearing an echo in your ear without any apparent reason? You're not alone. Many people describe sensations to be similar to cotton balls in their ears or a feeling of pressure similar to what you might experience on a plane. While the descriptions may vary, the discomfort and impact on hearing are common threads.

Updated: 7th May 2024


Why does echo in the ear occur?

The process of hearing involves intricate steps, converting sound waves into electrical signals. When sound waves enter the outer ear, they travel through the ear canal to the eardrum. If this path is obstructed, it can lead to an echo. One common culprit is the build-up of earwax, preventing sound waves from reaching their destination.

What are the most common causes of an echo in the ear?

  • Build-up of earwax: excess wax can harden and block the ear canal, creating an echoing effect. Earwax is a natural substance that helps protect the ear, but when it accumulates, it can lead to hearing issues.
  • Ear infections: infections in various parts of the ear, such as the middle ear (otitis media) or outer ear (otitis externa), can lead to post-infection echo. Ear infections are often accompanied by pain, fluid build-up, and changes in hearing.
  • Acoustic neuroma: this is a non-cancerous tumour that develops on the main nerve connecting your inner ear to your brain. While slow-growing, it can cause hearing loss, ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and an echoing sensation. Medical intervention may be required for management.
  • Presbycusis: age-related hearing loss is a common cause of echoing, often accompanied by tinnitus. It results from the natural ageing process affecting the inner ear's cochlea and related structures. Hearing aids can be beneficial in managing presbycusis.
  • Sinus infection: inflammation of sinus cavities can cause echoing in the ear. Sinusitis, whether acute or chronic, can lead to symptoms such as mucus build-up, redness, swelling, and pain. Seeking medical attention is crucial for proper management.
  • Diplacusis: double hearing, caused by factors like ear infections or loud noise exposure, comes in different forms. Diplacusis Dysharmonica results from a difference in perceived pitch, while Diplacusis Echoica is due to a delay in the perception of sound.
  • Allergies: allergy-related symptoms, including echoing, can occur due to excess fluid building up in the ear. This can create uncomfortable pressure, discomfort, and hearing loss. Managing allergies is key to addressing this cause.
  • Ototoxic medications: certain medications, including some chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin, can adversely affect the nerve cells of the inner ear, leading to an echoing sensation. If you suspect medication-induced echoing, consult with your healthcare provider.

Treatments for echo in the ear

The appropriate course of action depends on the underlying cause. For earwax build-up, professional cleaning by an audiologist may be necessary. Ear infections or sinusitis may require medical attention, often with antibiotics. A hearing test can also provide insights, and hearing aids may be recommended if significant hearing loss is present. 

Additional treatment approaches include:

  • Treatments for acoustic neuroma: the management of acoustic neuroma may involve careful monitoring, radiation therapy, or surgical removal, depending on the size and symptoms.
  • Management of presbycusis: while presbycusis is irreversible, hearing aids and assistive listening devices can significantly improve communication and quality of life.
  • Sinusitis treatment: treatment for sinusitis includes antibiotics, decongestants, and sometimes surgery in chronic cases to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Diplacusis management: identifying and addressing the underlying cause, such as ear infections or noise exposure, is crucial for managing diplacusis.
  • Allergy management: allergies can be managed through medications, allergy shots, and avoiding triggers to prevent symptoms like echoing.
  • Medication adjustment: if ototoxic medications are causing echoing, your healthcare provider may adjust your medication or explore alternative options.
  • Hearing health check and hearing aids: regular hearing health checks and the use of hearing aids can be instrumental in managing echoing and associated hearing issues.

Protecting your hearing

Beyond treatment, protecting your ears from loud noises is crucial. Wearing hearing protection, such as earplugs, can significantly reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.

If you want to find out more about the impact of the noise levels we're exposed to, we've shared insights on sounds that may have a long-term effect on our hearing. 

If you're concerned about your hearing or experiencing symptoms like echoing, take a proactive step towards better hearing health. Book a comprehensive hearing health check with our experienced professionals. Your hearing matters, and we're here to help you maintain yourhearing and well-being.

emma jarvis

Written By:
Emma Jarvis

Digital Optimisation Lead

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Medically Reviewed By:
Fazeel Talib

Audiology Expert