Why do I Hear Crackling in my Ear?

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Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s some info.

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

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even though we mostly view our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. You might hear some of these prevalent tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they might be telling you about your hearing. The majority of these noises are short-term and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are persistent you should get 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 isn’t the Rice Krispies. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny 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 an excess of mucus in these passages, often as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will become interrupted. There could be situations where a surgical procedure is called for in more serious cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t get any relief from the nagging ear pain and pressure.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus refers to a disorder where noises are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to debilitating.

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

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

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

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are dealing with tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a type of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, rather, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. While it could be as simple as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also related to conditions like anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition might be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. In some cases, you can hear a low rumbling when you yawn. Your body is trying to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to accomplish that. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds occur so frequently, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in very unusual cases, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have shown that TTTS happens frequently in people with tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and wavelengths.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? 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 called 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 condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. If medications aren’t helpful, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump in your ears, you’re most likely right. Your ears are really close to some major veins and arteries and if you just did a hard workout, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will most likely hear your own heartbeat.

This is known as 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 racing, it’s not unusual to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that isn’t normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a good idea to come in for a consultation. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health concern, such as high blood pressure, if it persists. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But if you just had a hard 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?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that are close to the Eustachian tube, like for example in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking sound. Clicking can also happen when you swallow for the same reasons. This is caused by the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some individuals report hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. In some rare instances, chronic clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are clogged and the swelling can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like pain in the ear, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you suspect that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to talk 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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