What’s Causing the Crackling Noise in my Ear?

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


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

Do you hear phantom sounds such as 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 sounds are most likely coming from inside of your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you need to 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 might be telling you about your hearing. The majority of these sounds are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that are painful or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s the cause?

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You might 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 tiny part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

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 clogged from the excess mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). In extreme situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious symptom of tinnitus. The term tinnitus refers 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 tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: 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 kind of sound, it could also be due to accumulated earwax.

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

And yes, significant, persistent ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a type of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is commonly a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as basic as earwax 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 underlying health condition might be.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This particular symptom is self-created. 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 tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds occur so close to your ears and so often that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. In very rare cases, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble at will. In other circumstances, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Studies have shown that TTTS occurs frequently in people who have tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and wavelengths.

What about a fluttering sound?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Muscle spasms cause those flutters just 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. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications aren’t helpful, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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

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

This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other types of tinnitus, it’s one that other people can hear. If you come in to see us, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the thumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. If your heart is racing, it’s not unusual to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that’s not normal.

It’s a good idea to come in for a consultation 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 conditions. 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 thumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is kept in balance, as previously stated, by the eustachian tubes. 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). For a similar reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some people describe hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare situations, chronic clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection causes the feeling that your ears are full and the swelling can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of a severe infection. You should schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Come in and consult with 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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