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Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? Buzzing, crackling, “static”, or whooshing noises in your ear can all be indications of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you should know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come from nowhere? 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.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we typically think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. You might hear some of these prevalent tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and short-term), it’s a good idea to see us if any of these noises are persistent, cause pain, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.

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

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You could hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from a change in altitude, going under water, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, frequently as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will get interrupted. There may be situations where a surgery is required in more serious cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telling sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical term for when somebody hears abnormal noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any external sources. The intensity of the sound can range from extremely quiet to deafening and most individuals 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: the hearing aids aren’t sitting securely within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be caused by accumulated earwax.

Accumulated earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more challenging to hear, as well as the potential 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.

And yes, excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a type of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, instead, 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 connected to more severe issues such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition may be.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you’re hearing it, you’re the one causing the sound. Occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble in your ears. Your body is trying to dampen 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.

These sounds take place so frequently, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. In very rare situations, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble on cue. In other circumstances, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have revealed that TTTS occurs often in individuals who have tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and frequencies.

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, affects 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. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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

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

This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other types 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 pounding, it’s not unusual to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that isn’t normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in for a consultation. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it might 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 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.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure inside your ears is kept in balance, 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 noise. For a similar 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 drains from the head. In some rare cases, chronic clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are full and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be a sign of severe infection. You need to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, sudden loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling sound 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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