BANBURY, England – Doctors were baffled when a British man told them, "I can hear my eyeballs moving."
But they finally diagnosed that Stephen Mabbutt had a rare ear condition in which sounds inside the body are heard very loudly, The Sun reported Monday.
Mabbutt, 57, could also hear his heart beating -- and when he chewed food, the noise was deafening to him.
The dad of two was experiencing autophony, one of the symptoms of superior canal dehiscence syndrome, an illness that was unknown until 10 years ago.
At first, he noticed that the internal sound of his own voice was beginning to drown out everything else around him. Over six years, the condition worsened as other bodily noises joined in.
"I was sitting quietly alone in the house one evening, and I suddenly heard this quite loud scratchy noise, like sandpaper being rubbed on wood," Mabbutt said. "I was quite alarmed and looked around, wondering what it was. Then I noticed the noise came every time I moved my eyes. I started to think I was going mad."
He added, "The first symptoms appeared around 2005. I found if I raised my voice, I'd get a vibration in my head. If I was eating a bag of crisps, the crunching noise drowned out people speaking. Then I found I would be hearing my heartbeat."
But this year, a CT scan showed a tiny hole in the temporal bone in Mabbutt's skull, which meant that fluid from the semicircular canals of the inner ear was leaking into his brain and conducting internal sounds.
Mabbutt, a company training coordinator from Banbury in Oxfordshire, southern England, underwent an operation that cured the problem.
Richard Irving, the consultant physician who treated Mabbutt, said, "It is a very unusual condition and difficult to spot."