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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 symptoms of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s some info.

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

Don’t fret there’s no need to panic. 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 instance, the ear. You might hear some of these common tinnitus noises and here are some signs of what they might be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a smart idea to see us if any of these noises are persistent, painful, 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 sure. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you might hear popping or crackling noises. These noises are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

It’s an automatic system, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). In severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find 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 telltale sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when somebody hears unusual noises, such as 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 debilitating.

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

There are also several reasons why you may hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting 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.

Too much 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 causes the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, significant, persistent ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. And the sounds produced by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, instead, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as simple as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as 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 rumbling in my ears?

This particular symptom is self-created. In some cases, you will hear a low rumble when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside your ears contracting in order to dampen sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds take place so often, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare cases, be purposely controlled to generate this rumbling. In other circumstances, 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 specific sound volumes and frequencies.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. Those flutters are normally the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects 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 commonly used as a first-round treatment to bring the fluttering under control. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an option if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump in your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if your heart rate is high – whether from a hard workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your pulse.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation 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. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it might indicate a health concern, such as high blood pressure, if it persists. It’s important 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 returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for similar reasons. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some individuals describe hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare cases indicate a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which 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, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to discuss treatments available to you.

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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.