Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other noises in your ears. Here’s some info.

Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But those noises are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Even though we generally think of our ears in terms of what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. You might hear some of these common tinnitus noises and here are some indications of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Most of these sounds are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that are painful or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in I’m hearing?

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, 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 noises. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.

It’s an automatic process, but sometimes, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). In extreme situations where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t get any relief from the nagging 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 term tinnitus relates to a disorder 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 unbearable.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

Again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: 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 type of sound, it could also be the result of excess earwax.

It seems logical that too much wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax make a sound? If it is pressing against your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. And the sounds generated by earwax are actually a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, rather, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as simple as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also associated with conditions such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should speak with us to find out more about ways to decrease your symptoms.

What are the unusual rumblings i’m hearing?

This particular symptom is self-produced. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. Your body is trying to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to do that. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so often that the noise level would be harmful without these muscles. In very rare situations, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble at will. In other cases, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Individuals dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? Those flutters are normally caused by a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as a first-round treatment to bring the fluttering under control. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

Why are my ears drumming, pumping, and pulsing so much?

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing inside your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s largest 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 condition like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your heartbeat.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that isn’t the case 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 pounding, it’s not unusual to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that’s not normal.

It’s a smart idea to come in for a consultation if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus could 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?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. 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. Clicking can also take place when you swallow for the same reasons. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some individuals report hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare instances 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 clogged and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. You need to make an appointment with us as soon as possible 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 drains of mucus.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Come in and consult with us and we can help you learn 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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