HEARING TIPS

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come out of nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside your ear.

Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Even though we mostly view our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is happening. The majority of these noises are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that are painful or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

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

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you could hear popping or crackling noises. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these sounds. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.

It’s an automatic process, but occasionally, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). There might be situations where a surgery is called for in more severe cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t get 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 sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus refers to a disorder where sounds are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. 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?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting low. But these sounds can also be produced by too much earwax.

It seems logical 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 impeded if wax is pressing against it and that can create these sounds.

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a type of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as basic as wax buildup, tinnitus is also related to conditions like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help relieve tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to decrease your symptoms.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This specific symptom is self-produced. In some cases, you can hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside of your ears contracting in order to soften sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

These sounds take place so often, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in very unusual cases, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. 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 managed using 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 thumping or pulsing in my ears

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

Most forms 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 because 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.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a good idea to come in and see us. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it might indicate a health concern, like high blood pressure, if it continues. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. 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.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is kept in balance, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For a similar reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus empties from the head. A clicking can, in rare cases indicate a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are full and the inflammation can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it could be a sign of acute infection. You need to make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, like 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.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and suspect you 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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