Why do I Hear Crackling in my Ear?

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? Buzzing, crackling, “static”, or whooshing sounds in your ear can all be signs of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s some info.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises 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 if you don’t use hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside of your ear.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be externally. You might hear some of these common tinnitus noises and here are some indications of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and short-term), it’s a good plan to see us if any of these noises are chronic, 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

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you might hear crackling or popping sounds. These sounds are caused by a small 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 are dealing with inflammation caused by 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 linked). There may be situations where a surgical procedure is required in more extreme cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. If you’re enduring chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get diagnosed.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when someone hears abnormal noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any external sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from very quiet to deafening and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

Once again, if you wear hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries might be running low, you need to adjust the volume, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this type 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 generate sounds. Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can produce these sounds.

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, rather, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as simple as earwax accumulation, tinnitus is also linked with conditions like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health issue can help relieve tinnitus, so you should contact us to learn more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What are the peculiar rumblings in my ear?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. Occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside your ears contracting in order to soften sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so frequently that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters exactly 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 alternative if the medications don’t work, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re likely not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat in 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 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 forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the case with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus isn’t hard for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing too. If your heart is racing, it’s not unusual to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that’s not normal.

It’s a smart idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing on a daily basis. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. 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 hard workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. 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). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for the same reasons. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus empties from the head. A clicking can, in rare cases point to 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 clogged and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be a symptom of severe infection. You need to schedule an appointment with us right away 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.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you learn what treatments are best for your situation.

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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