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 crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If this is happening with hearing aids, it could mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those sounds are probably coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t worry there’s no need to panic. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be on the outside. Here are a few of the more common sounds you might hear inside of your ears, and what they might indicate is going on. The majority of these sounds are short-term and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that are painful or are chronic 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. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.

It’s an automatic system, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the excess mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). In extreme cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage may call for surgical intervention. 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.

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

Vibrations in the ear are in some cases a telling sign of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical term for when somebody hears abnormal sounds, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any external sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from really quiet to deafening and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

Once again, if you wear hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries might be running low, you need a volume adjustment, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of noise, it could also be due to excess earwax.

It makes sense that excessive wax could make it difficult to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax make a sound? If it is pressing against your eardrum, it can actually hinder the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what triggers the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, significant, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as simple as earwax accumulation, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you determine what the root health condition may be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This specific symptom is self-created. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. Your body is attempting to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to accomplish that. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds occur so close to your ears and so often that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. In extremely rare situations, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble on cue. 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 with tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and wavelengths.

What about a fluttering noise?

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, impacts the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially managed with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping 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 really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a tough workout, big job interview, or a medical disorder like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your heartbeat.

Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation 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 pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. If your heart is pounding, it’s not abnormal to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that isn’t normal.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health concern, such as high blood pressure, if it continues. 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 thumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously stated, by the eustachian tubes. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus empties from the head. In some rare situations, chronic 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 produces the feeling that your ears are clogged and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an 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, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and consult with us and we can help you learn what treatments are best for your situation.

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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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