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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 noises in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it may mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But those noises are probably coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we mostly view our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside of your ears, and what they might suggest is happening. Though the majority are harmless (and temporary), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are chronic, painful, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s causing it

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, 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 happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

If you have too much mucus in these passages, often due to a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the normally automatic process will become disrupted. In serious cases where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage may call for surgical intervention. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication 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 outside sources. The intensity of the sound can range from really quiet to earsplitting and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for numerous reasons: your batteries might be running low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But these sounds can also be produced by an excessive amount of earwax.

Accumulated earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the potential of an ear infection, but how can it produce sounds. Your eardrum can be impeded if wax is pressing against it and that can create these sounds.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Your tinnitus may be caused by simple earwax build up but it can also be associated with 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 root health condition may be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you’re hearing it, you’re the one causing the sound. Sometimes, you will 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.

Those sounds occur so close to your ears and so often that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in very unusual cases, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths 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 cause 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 with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an option 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 hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very 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 pick up the sound of your pulse.

This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other types of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. If you come in for a consultation, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the thumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you need to live with every day.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. 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 pumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure in your ears is kept in balance, as previously discussed, 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. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some people report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare instances, chronic clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the little 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 sign of a severe infection. You need to make an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you determine 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.
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