Coastal Hearing Aid Center - Encinitas, CA

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 signs of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you should know.

Do you hear phantom sounds like thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If this is occurring with hearing aids, it might mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those sounds are most likely coming from inside of your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we generally think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are a few of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. Though most are harmless (and short-term), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are persistent, painful, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.

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 inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you might hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.

If you have too much mucus inside of these passages, often due to a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the normally automatic process will get disrupted. In serious cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could require surgery. If you’re suffering from persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical term for when somebody hears abnormal sounds, such as vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any external sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from very quiet to earsplitting and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

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 might be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But these noises can also be caused by too much 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. If it is touching your eardrum, it can actually restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what produces the buzzing or ringing.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a type of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Your tinnitus may be caused by simple earwax build up but it can also be linked to more severe problems such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should contact us to find out more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What are the weird 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 dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears contracting little muscles in order to do that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

These sounds happen so often, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in very unusual situations, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have revealed that TTTS occurs frequently in individuals with tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and frequencies.

What about a fluttering sound?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Muscle spasms cause those flutters exactly 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 controlled with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re probably not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Your ears are really close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very anxious you will probably hear your own heartbeat.

Most types 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. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it should not be something you need to live with every day.

It’s a smart idea to come in for a consultation if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But if you just had a hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also occur when you swallow for the same reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some people describe 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?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are clogged and the swelling can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be a symptom of severe infection. You need to make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to discuss treatments available to you.

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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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