Crackling in your ear? A condition known as 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 you use hearing aids, it may mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside of your ear.
This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Your ears have a lot more going on inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are a few of the more common sounds you might hear inside of your ears, and what they might indicate is happening. Most of these sounds are short-term and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that are painful or are persistent you should get a consultation with us.
There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s causing it
We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. You might hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.
If you have too much mucus inside of these passages, frequently as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will become interrupted. There may be situations where a surgical procedure is required in more extreme cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. If you’re experiencing chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get diagnosed.
I’m hearing vibrations in my ear – what could that mean?
Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telltale sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus refers to a disorder where noises are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity level of the sound can range from extremely 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 several reasons why you may hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting low. But these sounds can also be caused by an excessive amount of earwax.
It seems logical that excessive wax could make it difficult to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax produce a sound? Your eardrum can be impeded if wax is pressing against it and that can create these sounds.
And yes, significant, persistent ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as simple as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also related to conditions like anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you determine what the underlying health condition may be.
What’s causing my ears to rumble?
This particular symptom is self-produced. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. Your body is trying to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears contracting little muscles in order to accomplish that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.
Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. In extremely rare situations, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble at will. In other circumstances, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Studies have shown that TTTS happens often in individuals with tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and wavelengths.
What about a fluttering noise?
Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Those flutters are typically the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are generally 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, thumping, and pulsing so much?
You’re likely 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 did a hard workout, have high blood pressure, or are very anxious you will most likely hear your own pulse.
Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that’s not the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is easy for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing too. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it shouldn’t be something you have to live with every day.
If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in and see us. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. It’s essential 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 pumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.
Why does my ear keep clicking?
The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously discussed, by the eustachian tubes. If you have a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking noise. For the same reason, you might 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. A clicking can, in rare cases indicate a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.
Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?
Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it could be a sign of severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, such as pain in the ear, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.
Can I stop this crackling in my ears?
Do you believe that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to talk about treatments available to you.