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Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling sound? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.

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

Don’t worry there’s no need to panic. Even though we generally think of our ears in terms of what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are a few of the more common noises you might hear inside of your ears, and what they might suggest is going on. Most of these noises are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in I’m hearing?

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you are dealing with inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There could be situations where a surgical procedure is called for in more serious cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t get any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious symptom of tinnitus. The word tinnitus relates to a disorder where sounds are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from really quiet to deafening and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

Again, if you wear hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But these noises can also be caused by too much earwax.

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

Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is commonly a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as simple as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also associated with conditions such as anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition may be.

What are the unusual rumblings in my ear?

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

These sounds occur so frequently, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare situations, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific frequencies of sound, frequently 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. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, affects 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 condition. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

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

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that isn’t the case with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is easy for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing as well. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it shouldn’t be something you have to live with every day.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with 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?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking sound. Clicking can also take place when you swallow for similar reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus empties from the head. A clicking can, in rare instances indicate a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a symptom of severe infection. If you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule a consultation right away. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you suspect that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to find out about 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.