Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other noises in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.

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

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are a few of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they might suggest is happening. Most of these noises are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s the cause?

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. You could hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from a change in altitude, going under water, or just yawning. These noises are caused by a small part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.

If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, frequently due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can become gummed-up and the ordinarily automatic process will become disrupted. In severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage may call for surgery. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical term for when a person hears unusual sounds, like vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any outside sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from extremely quiet to earsplitting and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

Once again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds for numerous reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could also be the result of accumulated earwax.

Excess earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it create sounds. Your eardrum can be inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are coping with tinnitus. And the noises generated by earwax are actually a type of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, rather, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. Your tinnitus may be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be linked to more serious issues like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound happen. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside of your ears tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. They reduce 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 very rare situations, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble on cue. In other cases, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have revealed that TTTS occurs frequently in people who have tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and frequencies.

What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters just like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as a first-round treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications don’t work, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re likely not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. 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.

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 pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. If your heart is racing, it’s not abnormal to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that’s not normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it persists. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. But after a good scare or workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also occur when you swallow for the same reasons. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some people report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare cases, persistent clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

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

Sometimes, an ear infection creates 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. You should schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may 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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