Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing noises in your ear can all be signs of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you should know.

Do you hear phantom sounds like thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they need adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But those noises are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be externally. You might hear some of these common tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a good idea to see us if any of these noises are chronic, cause pain, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.

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

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You may hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from a change in altitude, going under water, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, frequently as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become gummed-up and the normally automatic process will get interrupted. In extreme cases where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage might call for surgical intervention. If you’re suffering from persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should make 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, tinnitus is the medical term for when a person hears abnormal sounds, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any outside 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 triggering this ringing in my ears?

Again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of noise, it could also be the result of excess earwax.

It makes sense that too much wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax make a sound? Your eardrum can be inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can produce these sounds.

And yes, excessive, persistent ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. While it could be as basic as wax buildup, 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 discover what the root health condition might be.

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 making the sound happen. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. Your body is trying to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears contracting little muscles in order to accomplish that. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds happen so frequently, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare cases, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters just like the ones in your ears. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, affects the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump inside your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s biggest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is high – 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 pulse.

Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation 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 abnormal to hear your own heartbeat, 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 every day. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it continues. It’s essential 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 goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that are close to the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking noise. For a similar reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus empties from the head. A clicking can, in rare instances indicate a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.

Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are full and the swelling can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be a sign of a 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?

Do you believe that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and see 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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