Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling sound? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s some info.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come from nowhere? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside your ear.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even though we mostly 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 prevalent tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they might be telling you about your hearing. Most of these noises are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that are painful or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.

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

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you might hear crackling or popping noises. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. 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 sometimes, like if you have inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the excess mucus in your system (remember, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). In severe situations where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage may call for surgery. If you’re enduring chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get diagnosed.

What does it mean when I hear vibrations in my ear?

Vibrations in the ear are in some cases a telltale sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus refers to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. Most people will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely noticeable to unbearable.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

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 perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But these sounds can also be caused by an excessive amount of earwax.

Excess earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it harder to hear, as well as the potential of an ear infection, but how can it produce sounds. If it’s touching your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what triggers the buzzing or ringing.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is commonly a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Your tinnitus could be triggered by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be associated with more serious issues like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should contact us to learn more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This specific symptom is self-created. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. Your body is attempting 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 extremely rare situations, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after exercising? Those flutters are usually the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially managed using muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle condition. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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

You’re probably not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just did a hard workout, have high blood pressure, or are very anxious you will most likely hear your own pulse.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. If you come in to see us, 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 unusual to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that’s not normal.

It’s a good idea to come in for a consultation if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it might indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it persists. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. 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 goes back to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure inside your ears is balanced, as previously discussed, by the eustachian tubes. 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 trigger a repeated clicking noise. Clicking can also happen when you swallow for the same reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. 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 small bones of the ears.

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

Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be an indication of a severe infection. You need to make an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head clears of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you suspect that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and see 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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