What’s the Cause of the Crackling Noise in my Ear?

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s some info.

Do you hear phantom noises such as thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those noises might just be coming from inside of your ear.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Your ears have much more happening inside than what they appear to be on the outside. You may hear some of these common tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they might 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.

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

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. 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 tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.

It’s an automatic system, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (keep in mind, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). In extreme situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could require surgery. 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?

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. The word tinnitus relates to a disorder where noises are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity level of the sound can range from very quiet to earsplitting and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

Again, if you wear hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries may be running low, you need to adjust the volume, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But these noises can also be produced by too much earwax.

It seems logical that excessive wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax make a sound? Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. And the noises generated by earwax are actually a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Your tinnitus may be caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be linked to more serious issues such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the underlying health condition may be.

What are the strange rumblings i’m hearing?

This specific symptom is self-produced. In some cases, you can hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside of your ears contracting 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 close to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. 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 certain wavelengths of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after exercising? 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. Usually, this condition is initially controlled using muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping 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 very close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a hard workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will pick up the sound of your heartbeat.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that’s not the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is not difficult for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing too. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you need to live with on a daily basis.

It’s a smart idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing on a daily basis. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. Sometimes, 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 hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure inside your ears is balanced, as previously stated, by the eustachian tubes. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for example in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking sound. For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some individuals describe hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare cases, chronic clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are full and the swelling can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a sign of acute infection. You need to make an appointment with us right away 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 clears of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Set up 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.

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