Why do I Hear Crackling in my Ear?

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing noises in your ear can all be indications of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s some info.

Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If this is happening with hearing aids, it could mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside your ear.

Don’t fret there’s no need to stress. Your ears have a lot more going on inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. Most of these noises are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are persistent you should get a consultation with us.

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

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you might hear popping or crackling sounds. These noises are caused by a small part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.

It’s an automatic system, but occasionally, like if you are dealing with inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the excess mucus in your system (keep in mind, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There may be situations where a surgery is called for in more extreme cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. If you’re enduring chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get diagnosed.

I’m hearing vibrations in my ear – what does that mean?

Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telling sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus refers to a condition 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 tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: your batteries may be running low, you need a volume adjustment, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could also be the result of excess earwax.

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

Chronic buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are coping with tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as 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. While it could be as basic as wax buildup, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should consult with us to find out more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What are the strange rumblings i’m hearing?

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

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. In very rare cases, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble on cue. In other circumstances, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters exactly like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re likely not off base if you think you 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 disorder like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your pulse.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other types of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus isn’t hard for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing as well. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you have 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 persists, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to a heart condition. But after a good scare or workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously discussed, by the eustachian tubes. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that are close to the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking sound. For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?

Ear infections sometimes generate swelling which can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be an indication of a severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like pain in the ear, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head clears of mucus.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to discuss treatments available to you.

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.