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 indications of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you should know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come out of nowhere? If this is occurring with hearing aids, it may mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside of your ear.

Don’t fret there’s no need to stress. Even though we generally think of our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. You might hear some of these prevalent tinnitus noises and here are some signs of what they may be telling you about your hearing. The majority of these sounds are short-term and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in I’m hearing?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. You could hear popping or crackling 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. 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 inside of these passages, frequently due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will get interrupted. There could be situations where a surgery is called for in more severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the nagging ear pain and pressure.

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 a person hears abnormal noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any outside sources. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it occurs across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

Again, if you wear 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 loud, or your batteries are running low. But these sounds can also be caused by too much earwax.

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

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even buzzing 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 caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be connected to more severe issues such as anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you determine what the underlying health condition may 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 causing the sound. In some cases, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

These sounds happen so often, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. In very rare cases, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble on cue. In other circumstances, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Those flutters are usually 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 aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are generally used as an initial treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re probably not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. Your ears are really close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will most likely hear your own heartbeat.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people 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. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it should not be something you have to live with on a daily basis.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health problem, such as high blood pressure, if it continues. 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 workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. 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. For a similar reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals describe hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare instances point to a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

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. If your ears are popping, it could be a symptom of acute infection. You need to make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, 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?

Do you believe that the crackling noise in your ears is 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.

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