Why do I Hear Crackling in my Ear?

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition called 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 this is occurring with hearing aids, it might mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside your ear.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Your ears have a lot more happening inside than what they appear to be externally. You might hear some of these prevalent tinnitus sounds and here are some indications of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and short-term), it’s a good plan to see us if any of these noises are chronic, painful, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

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

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 may hear crackling or popping sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these sounds. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

If you have an excess of mucus inside of these passages, often due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will get disrupted. There may be situations where a surgery is required in more severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should schedule 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 could that mean?

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when someone hears abnormal noises, like vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any outside sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from really quiet to deafening and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

Again, if you wear hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for numerous reasons: your batteries may be getting low, you need to adjust the volume, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly 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.

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

Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. And the noises generated by earwax are actually a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. While it could be as simple as earwax accumulation, tinnitus is also linked with conditions such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition might be.

What are the peculiar rumblings in my ear?

This specific symptom is self-created. 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 dampen sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds manifest so near to your ears and so often that the noise level would be harmful without these muscles. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in very rare situations, be purposely controlled to generate this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after exercising? Those flutters are normally the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as 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 disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as an initial treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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 very 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 heartbeat.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that isn’t the case with pulsatile tinnitus. If you come in for a consultation, we can listen in on your ears and we will be able to hear the pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. If your heart is racing, it’s not abnormal to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that’s not normal.

It’s a good idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to 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 returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for example in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking sound. For the same reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus empties from the head. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Does it mean I have an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are full and the swelling can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be an indication 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, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you suspect that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to talk about 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.