Man touching ear in response to crackling noises in his ear.

Ever hear sounds that seem to come from nowhere, such as crackling, buzzing or thumping? Perhaps, if you wear hearing aids, they need a fitting or need adjustment. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the sounds are originating from inside your ear. There’s no need to panic. Even though we generally think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they may mean is going on. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, although the majority are temporary and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you may hear crackling or popping noises. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, enabling air and fluid to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. It’s an automatic process, but in some circumstances, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can actually get gummed up. In serious cases, when antibiotics or decongestants don’t help, a blockage could require surgical treatment. If you’re experiencing chronic ear pain or pressure, you probably should see a professional.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax might be the problem. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not surprising that it could make hearing difficult, but how does it produce these noises? The buzzing or ringing is produced when the wax is pushing on the eardrum and suppressing its motion. Fortunately, it’s easily fixed: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (Don’t attempt to do this at home!) Excessive, persistent ringing or buzzing is known as tinnitus. Even noise from excessive earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health problem and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be associated with anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the root health problem can help lessen tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s not so prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one causing the noises to happen! Have you ever observed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help decrease the internal volume of some natural actions like your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. Activities, including yawning and chewing, are so near to your ears that even though they are not very loud, they can still harming your hearing. (And since never chewing or speaking isn’t a good solution, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) It’s extremely unusual, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to produce that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re probably right. The ears have a few of the bodies biggest veins running very close them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether from that important job interview or a difficult workout, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus is the term for this, and when you go to see a hearing professional, unlike other types of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to see a professional because that’s not normal. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is not a disease, it’s a symptom; there are most likely health concerns if it continues. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate goes back to normal.

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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