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.

Do you hear phantom noises such as thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If this is happening with hearing aids, it might mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside of your ear.

Don’t fret 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 your ears, and what they might indicate is going on. The majority of these sounds are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

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

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. You might hear crackling or popping 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 too much mucus in these passages, often due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the normally automatic process will become disrupted. There could be situations where a surgery is required in more serious cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication 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 extremely quiet to deafening and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you may hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: your batteries might be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could also be caused by excess earwax.

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

And yes, significant, chronic buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is commonly a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Your tinnitus may be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be linked to more serious problems such as depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should speak with us to learn more about ways to reduce your symptoms.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears tensing in order to soften sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

These sounds take place so frequently, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be purposely controlled to generate this rumbling. In other cases, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Those flutters are normally caused by a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your 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 alternative if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

Why are my ears drumming, thumping, and pulsing so much?

You’re probably not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a hard workout, big job interview, or a medical disorder like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. 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. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you need to live with every day.

It’s a smart idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But after a good scare or workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously stated, by the eustachian tubes. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For a similar reason, you may 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. A clicking can, in rare instances indicate a fracture of one of the fragile 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 full and the inflammation 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 need to schedule a consultation immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Make an appointment for 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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