Why Do You Hear A Rumbling Sound When You Close Your Eyes Too Hard?

Close your eyes REALLY hard and concentrate on the sound between your ears. Do you hear a low rumbling sound, almost like thunder? You can sometimes hear a similar sound when you yawn. If you do, then you’re one of a special
group of people who can hear that mysterious sound between their ears—the sound caused by the tensor tympani muscle in the ear. The human ear is comprised of three main sections—the outer (or external) ear, middle ear and inner ear The auricle or pinna is the most visible part of the outer ear and is what most people refer to when they use the word ‘ear’. Sound waves first enter the outer ear and
travel through the ear canal. The ear canal channels the sound waves to the eardrum (or tympanic membrane)—a thin but extremely sensitive membrane that is stretched tightly over the entrance to the middle ear. The middle ear is the space that lies between the eardrum and the bony otic capsule of the inner ear This section of the ear consists of two muscles,
three tiny bones and numerous air spaces. THIS is the part where all the action related
to those low rumbling sounds occurs. You see, just like the rest of the body, there
are muscles in the ear as well, but unlike the muscles present in your hands and legs,
the muscles in the middle ear don’t move anything that you can see. There are two important muscles in the middle ear—the stapedius muscle and the tensor tympani muscle. The low, rumbling sound that you hear when
you shut your eyes really tight is caused by the tensor tympani muscle. The tensor tympani muscle originates from
the Eustachian tube, which is also known as the auditory tube. From there, this muscle attaches to the malleus
bone—one of the three tiny bones located within the middle ear. This malleus bone looks like a little hammer,
and the tensor tympani muscle attaches to the handle of this hammer. When this muscle is contracted, or tensed,
it pulls the malleus medially, tensing the tympanic membrane and dampening vibrations
in the ear ossicles, which results in reducing the perceived amplitude of sounds. In simple words, the tensor tympani muscle
acts to dampen sounds within the ear. Have you ever wondered why the sound of your
own chewing is so low? In fact, it’s so soft that we don’t really
notice the sound of our chewing while eating unless we’re trying to hear ourselves. This happens because the tensor tympani muscle
does a very good job at dampening the sound produced by our own chewing. Furthermore, the tympanic reflex helps prevent
damage to the inner ear by dampening the transmission of vibrations from the eardrum to the oval
window. In simple words, the tensor tympani muscle
can actually block certain loud sounds that fall on your ear FROM THE OUTSIDE and make
them seem quieter to you. For instance, when you hear a particularly
loud sound, its waves can reach the insides of your ear and do some real damage there. The tensor tympani muscle in the middle ear
plays a crucial role in preventing any harm from occurring. The moment a particularly loud sound falls
on the muscle, it contracts or tenses up immediately, which has a dampening effect on the incoming
sound, thus making the sound seem quieter to you. However, the tympanic reflex has a response
time of about 40 milliseconds, which isn’t fast enough to shield the ear from sudden
loud noises, like the sound of an explosion or a gunshot. That being said, it’s good for muffling
the sound of loud thunder, which doesn’t happen in a split second, unlike an explosion. The tensor tympani muscle is tensed involuntarily
when we yawn, which produces a soft rumbling sound. Some people can contract the tensor tympani
muscle voluntarily and can therefore hear that low, rumbling sound in the ear for a
few seconds before the sound dies off. This happens because muscles vibrate when
they tense up. For instance, your hand shakes when you clench
your fingers tightly to make a really firm fist. If you press a really tight fist against your
ear, you can hear a low, wind-like sound emanating from your hand! So, next time you’re eating cereal, try
to listen to the sound of your own chewing. If it sounds impressively soft, remember that
you have the tensor tympani muscle to thank!


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