Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you should know.

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

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even though we generally view our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. You may hear some of these common tinnitus sounds and here are some indications of what they may be telling you about your hearing. The majority of these noises are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.

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

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you might hear crackling or popping noises. These noises are caused by a tiny 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.

If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, frequently due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get gummed-up and the normally automatic process will become interrupted. There may be situations where a surgery is required in more severe cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus refers to a disorder where noises are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. Most individuals 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: your batteries might be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But these noises can also be produced by too much earwax.

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

And yes, significant, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is commonly a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Your tinnitus may be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be linked to more severe issues like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health problem can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should consult with us to find out more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This particular symptom is self-created. Sometimes, you will hear a low rumbling 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. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so frequently that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Those flutters are normally the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as the fluttering you hear in your ears. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, affects the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially managed with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. 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. Some of the body’s biggest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is high – whether from a tough workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your heartbeat.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. If you come in for a consultation, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you need to live with every day.

It’s a good idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. 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.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you have 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. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare instances, chronic clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Does it mean I have an infection if my ears are popping?

Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. You should schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you learn 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.