Hearing Health Blog

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus

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

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it may mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises might just be coming from inside of your ear.

Don’t fret there’s no need to stress. Your ears have a lot more happening inside than what they appear to be on the outside. Here are a few of the more common sounds you may hear inside of your ears, and what they might indicate is going on. The majority of these noises are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that are painful or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s the cause?

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. You could hear popping or crackling 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 noises. 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 inside of these passages, frequently due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the normally automatic process will become interrupted. In severe situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage might require surgery. If you’re enduring persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

I’m hearing vibrations in my ear – what could that mean?

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical term for when someone hears unusual sounds, like vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any external sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from extremely quiet to earsplitting and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

There are also several reasons why you may hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: your batteries might be getting low, you need to adjust the volume, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be the result of excess earwax.

It seems logical that too much wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax make a sound? Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.

And yes, significant, chronic ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, alternatively, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as basic as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the underlying health condition might be.

What are the peculiar rumblings i’m hearing?

This particular symptom is self-created. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside of your ears tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds take place so frequently, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. In extremely rare cases, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble on cue. In other cases, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific frequencies of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Muscle spasms cause those flutters just like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing in your ears, you’re probably right. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very anxious you will probably hear your own pulse.

Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is easy for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the thumping and pulsing as well. If your heart is pounding, it’s not unusual to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that’s not normal.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a smart move to come in for a consultation. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. But if you just had a hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for similar reasons. This is caused by the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus empties from the head. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection causes the feeling that your ears are clogged and the inflammation can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be a sign of an acute infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, such as pain in the ear, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule a consultation immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you suspect that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you learn what treatments are best for your situation.

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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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