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.

Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But those sounds are probably coming from inside of your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t fret there’s no need to stress. 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. The majority of these noises are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus noises that are painful or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

What’s causing the snap, crackle, and pop in my ear?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You could hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. 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 caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (keep in mind, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There may be situations where a surgical procedure is called for in more severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. If you’re enduring persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get diagnosed.

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

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical name for when a person hears abnormal sounds, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any external sources. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely noticeable to debilitating.

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries might be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, 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 sound, it could also be due to excess earwax.

It seems logical that excessive wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax produce a sound? If it is touching your eardrum, it can actually hinder the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what produces the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, excessive, persistent ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as simple as earwax buildup, tinnitus is also linked with conditions like 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 may be.

What are the weird rumblings i’m hearing?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. In some cases, you will hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside of your ears tensing in order to soften sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so often that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare cases, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other cases, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have revealed that TTTS happens often in individuals with tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and frequencies.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. 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. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are generally used as a first-round treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an option if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re probably not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just did a hard workout, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will probably hear your own heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other types of tinnitus, it’s one that other people can hear. If you come in to see us, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you have to live with every day.

It’s a good idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it continues. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to a heart condition. But after a good scare or workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

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 example in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking noise. For the same reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare instances, chronic clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Ear infections sometimes generate swelling which can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it might be an indication of severe infection. You need to schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following 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? 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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