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 need to know.

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

Don’t fret there’s no need to stress. Your ears have a lot more happening inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are a few of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is happening. The majority of these noises are short-term and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in I’m hearing?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You may 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 small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling happens 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, often as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become gummed-up and the ordinarily automatic process will get interrupted. There might be situations where a surgery is required in more severe cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. If you’re suffering from persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get diagnosed.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus refers to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. 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 the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are getting low. But these sounds can also be caused by an excessive amount of earwax.

It seems logical that excessive wax could make it tough to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax produce a sound? Your eardrum can be impeded if wax is pressing against it and that can produce these sounds.

And yes, excessive, chronic buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the noises generated by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, instead, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as basic as wax buildup, tinnitus is also associated with conditions like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should contact us to learn more about ways to reduce your symptoms.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This particular symptom is self-created. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. Your body is trying to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to do that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

These sounds occur so frequently, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual cases, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Studies have shown that TTTS happens often in people who have tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and frequencies.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Those flutters are usually the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, impacts the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to bring the fluttering under control. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump in your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s largest 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 pick up the sound of your heartbeat.

Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that’s not the case 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 unusual to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this pumping 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 and see us. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to a heart condition. But if you just had a good workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or pumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously discussed, by the eustachian tubes. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking sound. For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals report hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. In some rare situations, 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?

Ear infections sometimes cause swelling which can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be a sign of a severe infection. You need to make 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 clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and suspect you have 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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