Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


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

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

Don’t fret there’s no need to panic. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be on the outside. Here are some of the more common sounds you might hear inside your ears, and what they may suggest is going on. Most of these noises are short-term and innocuous 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?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. You might hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. 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 sometimes, like if you have inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (keep in mind, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). There might be situations where a surgery is required in more severe cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus relates to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from very quiet to earsplitting and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you may hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: your batteries may be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe 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 noise, it could also be due to accumulated earwax.

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

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, alternatively, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. Your tinnitus may be triggered by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be associated with more serious problems such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to decrease your symptoms.

What are the strange rumblings in my ear?

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

These sounds take place so often, and are so close 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 cases, a condition known as 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 frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs 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. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, affects the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing inside your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – 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.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus isn’t hard for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the thumping and pulsing too. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it should not be something you need to live with every day.

It’s a smart idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing on a daily basis. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some people describe hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare cases, chronic clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Ear infections sometimes cause swelling which can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. You should make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden hearing loss, 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 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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