Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you should know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come from nowhere? If this is occurring with hearing aids, it could mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those noises are probably coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Even though we typically view our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they may suggest is happening. Most of these sounds are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that are painful or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in my ear?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling noises. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these sounds. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you are dealing with inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). In extreme situations where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. If you’re enduring persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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

Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telling sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when someone hears unusual sounds, like vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any external sources. Most people will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also several reasons why you may hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are getting low. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could also be due to accumulated earwax.

Excess earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it more challenging to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it produce sounds. If it’s pressing against your eardrum, it can actually hinder the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what triggers the buzzing or ringing.

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, alternatively, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. Your tinnitus could be triggered by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be associated with more severe issues such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should speak with us to learn more about ways to decrease your symptoms.

What are the peculiar rumblings i’m hearing?

This particular symptom is self-created. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside of your ears tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds manifest so near to your ears and so often that the level of noise would be harmful without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare situations, be purposely controlled to generate 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 revealed that TTTS occurs frequently in people with tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and wavelengths.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after exercising? Muscle spasms cause those flutters just like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially controlled 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.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing in your ears, you’re probably right. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very anxious you will probably hear your own heartbeat.

This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. If you come in for a consultation, 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 isn’t normal.

It’s a good idea to come in for a consultation if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it might indicate a health concern, such as high blood pressure, if it persists. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking noise. Clicking can also happen when you swallow for the same reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals describe 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’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are full and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of a severe infection. You should schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Come in and consult with us and we can help you determine 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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