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 symptoms of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s some info.

Do you hear phantom sounds like thumping, buzzing, or ringing 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 use hearing aids, those noises 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 on the outside. Here are some of the more common sounds you might hear inside of your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. Though the majority are harmless (and short-term), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are chronic, cause pain, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

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

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. You could hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a small 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 system, but occasionally, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (remember, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). In serious cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage might call for surgical intervention. 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 does that mean?

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical name for when a person hears unusual noises, like vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any outside sources. The intensity level of the sound can range from very quiet to deafening and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting securely within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are getting low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be caused by accumulated earwax.

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

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, instead, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. Your tinnitus might be caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be connected to more serious problems such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition may be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you’re hearing it, you’re the one causing the sound. Sometimes, you will hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside your ears tensing in order to soften sounds you make. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds occur so frequently, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare situations, 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 specific frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? Muscle spasms cause those flutters exactly like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as a first-round treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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

You’re likely not off base if you think you can 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 hard 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 other people but that isn’t the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is not difficult for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing too. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it shouldn’t be something you need to live with every day.

It’s a good idea to come in for a consultation if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus may 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 talk about your heart with us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As noted above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. If you have 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 noise. For a similar reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some people describe hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare cases indicate a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be a sign of acute infection. You should make an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, 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 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.

Questions?

    Hearing Aids By Tricia Leagjeld

    Redmond, OR

    708 SW 11th StreetRedmond, OR 97756On the corner of Glacier (Hwy 126) and 11th

    Call or Text: 541-640-5354

    Monday through Friday
    9am – 4:30pm

    Find out how we can help!

    Call or Text Us