Hearing Health Blog

Man touching ear in response to crackling noises in his ear.

Ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling noises that seem to come from nowhere? If you have hearing aids, it could mean that they require adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But it could also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds may be coming from inside your ears. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common noises you might hear in your ears, and what they may mean is going on. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are irritating and persistent, although most are short-term and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you could hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing air and fluid to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. At times this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation triggered by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. In serious cases, when decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage can call for surgical intervention. You probably should see a specialist if you feel pressure or prolonged pain.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as previously mentioned. If you’re not wearing hearing aids, earwax could be the issue. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense with earwax, and it’s not surprising that it could make hearing difficult, but how does it create these noises? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. Thankfully, it’s easily solved: You can get the excess wax professionally removed. (Don’t attempt to do this by yourself!) Excessive, persistent ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. There are several forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health issue and is not itself a disease or disorder. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be linked to depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help alleviate tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s much less common, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound to occur! Do you know that rumbling you can sometimes hear when you take a really big yawn? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help decrease the internal volume of some natural actions like your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. We’re not claiming you chew too loudly, it’s just that those sounds are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be damaging. (And since never chewing or speaking isn’t a good solution, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) It’s very rare, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble whenever they want.

Pulsing or Thumping

Your probably not far of the mark if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s biggest veins are extremely close to your ears, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from that big job interview or a hard workout, the sound of your pulse will be detected by your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus is the term for this, and when you go to see a hearing professional, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it also. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to consult a professional because that’s not common. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease; if it persists, it may suggest a health concern. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate comes back to normal.

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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