My voice echoes inside my head

I first came across my own voice echoing inside my head after my ear operation, although I have since learnt that it is quite common in people with otherwise normal hearing - see below.

My experiences were mainly during and after plane journeys while I had a cold, but they have happened since in other situations and in connection with hearing aids.

What echoing inside the head is like

Sufferers of this problem are hearing 'echoes' of their own voice in their heads as they speak. This effect can be so dramatic that it becomes impossible to concentrate or even to speak. They hear what other people are saying without any echo effect but conversation can still difficult or impossible.

For me when it happens the echoes are exceptionally loud and booming. I clutch my head to try to escape them, but cannot. The effect may not of course be as dramatic for other people. Also it depends on the pitch of what I am saying and even the orientation of my head.

Fortunately the problem can be relatively easily prevented or solved - see below.

The cause of echoing inside one's head

Normally much of the sound of people's own voices escapes through the bones in their heads and their ear canals. Not all of it escapes which is why our own voices sound different to us than to other people.

The problem of echoing comes when one or both ear tubes are blocked so that sound cannot escape that way. The most common culprit is ear wax, but the fluids associated with colds can also cause problems if they are sucked back behind the ear drums by changes in air pressure such as while planes are making their descent. Another culprit for some people is certain types of ear mould.

For prevention and treatment see below.

Hearing occlusion: the medical term for ear blockage

The medical term for ear blockage is 'occlusion' or 'hearing occlusion' and echoing inside the head is one result of it.

Deafness and hearing occlusion

When the blockage prevents external sound from reaching the eardrums or prevents them from vibrating normally, the result is a loss of hearing. Easily my worst experience was a severe case of fluid behind the eardrums after flying. Not only did it make my own voice echo inside my head and result in a loss of hearing, I could also hear the fluid sloshing around every time I moved my head. It took about a week to clear and was frightening as well as disrupting.

The prevention and treatment of hearing occlusion

Hearing occlusion can normally be solved or prevented quite simply.

Basically whatever is blocking the sound of one's own voice escaping through the ear canal has itself to be removed or prevented from forming.

Where the occlusion is due to ear wax all that is required is a visit to a doctor or nurse for the ear to be syringed.

When flying, I always take drops about half and hour before the plane lands, but for more information, see my page on effects of flying. The same drops or decongestant pills help when the blockages are due to colds.

With my first few hearing aid moulds, I had bad occlusion problems which have now been rectified. I explain more on the page on hearing aids.

Hearing problems in children due to occlusion

Hearing problems in children are frequently caused by fluid collecting behind the ear drum. When a toddler in my family had this in the 1970s, the hospital merely gave her some liquid medicine to take which cured the problem quickly, never to return. Nowadays I understand that tiny draining tubes called grommets can be inserted into the ear drums and later removed once the drainage is complete. The children don't seem adversely affected and the eardrums heal completely.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is for a lay audience and I cannot be responsible for errors or omissions. The views, strategies, advice and suggestions etc are based on my personal experience and are not necessarily appropriate for anyone else. They should, hopefully, stimulate individuals to develop their own strategies.