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 what you should know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come out of nowhere? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside your ear.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Your ears have much more happening inside than what they appear to be on the outside. Here are some of the more common noises you might hear inside your ears, and what they might indicate is happening. Most of these noises are short-term and innocuous but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

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

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. You could hear crackling or popping 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 known as the eustachian tube. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you have 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 (remember, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There might be situations where a surgery is called for in more serious cases where decongestant sprays, 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.

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

Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telltale sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus relates to a condition where sounds are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from really quiet to earsplitting and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds for numerous reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could also be caused by accumulated earwax.

Too much earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it harder to hear, as well as the potential of an ear infection, but how can it generate sounds. Your eardrum can be inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can create these sounds.

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Your tinnitus may be caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be connected to more severe issues like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside of your ears tensing in order to soften 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 frequently that the noise level would be harmful without these muscles. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in very rare cases, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Studies have revealed that TTTS happens frequently in people who have tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and frequencies.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Those flutters are typically the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts 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 bring the fluttering under control. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

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

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing inside your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s largest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – 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.

Most kinds 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 since we can listen in on your ears and hear the thumping and pulsing too. If your heart is racing, it’s not unusual to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that’s not normal.

It’s a good idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But after a good scare or workout, your hearing should return to normal when 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 cause a repeated clicking noise. Clicking can also take place when you swallow for the same reasons. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some individuals report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare cases, chronic clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

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 swelling can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a sign of acute infection. If you have any other symptoms, such as pain in the ear, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you determine 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.

Questions?

    Theos Audiology Solutions, LLC

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