Hearing Health Blog

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other noises in your ears. Here’s some info.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come out of nowhere? If this is occurring with hearing aids, it might mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those noises are probably coming from inside of your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Your ears have much more happening inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are a few of the more common noises you might hear inside your ears, and what they may suggest is happening. Most of these sounds are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s causing it

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. You may hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these sounds. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.

If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, frequently as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the normally automatic process will become disrupted. In serious cases where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could require surgical intervention. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

What does it mean when I hear vibrations in my ear?

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical name for when a person hears unusual noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any external sources. Most people will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it occurs across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

There are also several reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting low. But these sounds can also be caused by too much earwax.

Accumulated earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it produce sounds. Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.

And yes, significant, chronic buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the sounds generated by earwax are actually a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, rather, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as simple as wax buildup, tinnitus is also related to conditions like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help relieve tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you’re hearing it, you’re the one making the sound happen. Occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. Your body is trying to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to accomplish that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds occur so close to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare cases, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain wavelengths of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after a workout? Those flutters are usually caused by a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, impacts the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially controlled with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

Why are my ears drumming, pumping, and pulsing so much?

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump inside your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s largest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a hard workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that isn’t the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus isn’t hard for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the thumping and pulsing too. If your heart is racing, it’s not unusual to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that’s not normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in and see us. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health concern, like high blood pressure, if it persists. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that are close to the Eustachian tube, like for example in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking noise. For a similar reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some people report hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare instances point to a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

Is ear popping a sign of infection?

Ear infections sometimes generate swelling which can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. You need to schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you suspect that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to discuss treatments available to you.

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References

https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/uf9680
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24289817/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23571302/

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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