Hi Doc Kelley and all. I see this forum hasn't been so active lately, but I thought why not put this out there anyway.
In brief (really!) this is what's happening.
During speaking, breathing through the mouth, and just about any other thing that tenses and then relaxes the soft palate (swallowing, blowing, burping, sneezing, yawning...) I get a series of externally audible CLICKS coming from my throat area that corresponds to the "lowering" of the soft palate. It happens especially after consonants, and I can make it happen, but not stop it from happening. It is often loud, extremely distressing, and sometimes makes the area feel raw and sore, and my neck and throat muscles get tense as a result. I also get the constant urge to clear my ears and/or cause the clicking.
I also have a slew of minor symptoms that I previously thought were unrelated to this clicking, including occasional autophony/hyperacusis (only in certain situations and usually caused by things that I touch, rather than sounds inside my body), occasional ringing tinnitus (one or both ears), and a clicking in my right ear when I run or jog.
More interestingly, I studied the symptoms of Patulous Eustachian Tube (PET) patients, and while I seem to *not* have typical PET (in which the ET is open almost all the time), I saw that what brought PET sufferers relief, was exactly what brought me relief from my clickings, including: lying on my back, leaning far forward, pressing on certain points on my neck, and, curiously, getting congestion from a cold.
I came to the conclusion that my clickings were almost certainly my ETs opening and closing, (this theory accounts for all of the above symptoms more than any other that I've thought of) and have been investigating treatments for PET to see if they can help: one strategy I've read about, "snorting" salt and/or chlorinated water to irritate the ET openings and swell them shut (mimicking congestion) has given me more relief than anything I'd previously done-- but still, it only tends to last about 10 minutes max before the ETs start to reopen and the clicking begins again. (My other strategy is to do a prolonged, open-throat gargle in which I "splash" the liquid up above my palate-- I now know that it's hitting the ETs a bit-- this relieves the clicking for 1-2 minutes.)
As to the cause, I speculate that it's either due to my ET openings not having enough "fatty tissue" to keep closed (though, not as little as in PET), or that it is due to one of the muscles connecting the ETs to the soft palate-- such as the Levator Veli Palatini or the Tensor Veli Palatini-- having some unusual tic or spasm, or just being too tense (or too short!) thus tugging on the ET openings every time the palate tenses.
Any insight? Obviously getting to the root cause would be nice, but just treating the symptoms would be a godsend. Anything I can do that I haven't thought of to "lubricate" the area? To chill out my tensor muscles? To find an ENT or neurologist (I live in France but will travel) who is actually both knowledgeable and interested in listening to patients and helping them address their problems? To anyone reading who can relate to this, please share your experiences!! I'm not the only one who's found things posted online very enlightening (and comforting to know he's not the only one!)
Sorry for the long post, but I guess it's specific enough. Oh: male, 32, no meds, non-smoker, no relevant family history that I know of.