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 sounds in your ears. Here’s some info.

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 to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside of your ear.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Your ears have much 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 your ears, and what they might suggest is going on. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a good idea to see us if any of these noises are persistent, cause pain, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

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

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling noises. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.

If you have too much mucus in these passages, frequently as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can get gummed-up and the normally automatic process will get interrupted. There may be situations where a surgical procedure is called for in more severe cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get diagnosed.

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

Vibrations in the ear are in some cases a telltale sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when a person hears unusual noises, like vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any external sources. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it occurs across the spectrum, from barely noticeable to unbearable.

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 may be running low, you need to adjust the volume, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But these noises can also be caused by an excessive amount of earwax.

Accumulated earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the potential of an ear infection, but how can it create sounds. If it is touching your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, significant, persistent ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Your tinnitus might be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be associated with more serious issues like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should contact us to find out more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This specific symptom is self-created. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. Your body is attempting 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 near to your ears and so often that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in very rare cases, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have shown that TTTS happens often in people who have tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and wavelengths.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters exactly 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. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as an initial treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing inside your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s biggest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a tough workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your pulse.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the case with pulsatile tinnitus. If you come in to see us, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the thumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. If your heart is pounding, it’s not abnormal to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that isn’t normal.

It’s a good idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing on a daily basis. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. But if you just had a good workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or pumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure inside your ears is balanced, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that are close to the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking sound. Clicking can also occur when you swallow for similar reasons. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus empties from the head. A clicking can, in rare cases point to a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

Does it mean I have an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection causes the feeling that your ears are clogged and the swelling can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it could be a sign of acute infection. You should make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head clears of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and suspect you have 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.

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