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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 sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those sounds might just be coming from inside of your ear.

Don’t worry there’s no need to panic. Your ears have a lot more happening inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside of your ears, and what they might 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, painful, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s the cause?

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. You might hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from a change in altitude, going under water, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these sounds. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

It’s an automatic process, but occasionally, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the overabundance of mucus in your system (remember, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). In extreme cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage may require surgical intervention. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the nagging ear pain and pressure.

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

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

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

There are also several reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: your batteries might be getting low, you need to adjust the volume, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But these noises 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 can earwax make a sound? If it’s touching your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, rather, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. Your tinnitus could be caused by simple earwax build up but it can also be connected to more severe problems like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health issue can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should contact us to find out more about ways to reduce your symptoms.

What are the weird rumblings i’m hearing?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you’re hearing it, you’re the one causing the sound. In some cases, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears tensing in order to soften 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 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 cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain wavelengths of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after exercising? Muscle spasms cause those flutters just 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 managed with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle condition. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

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

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump inside your ears, you’re probably right. 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 probably hear your own pulse.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the situation 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 thumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it should not be something you need to live with every day.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in for a consultation. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health concern, like high blood pressure, if it continues. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. But after a good scare or workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is kept in balance, as previously discussed, by the eustachian tubes. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking noise. For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. This is due to the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.

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

Sometimes, an ear infection causes the feeling that your ears are clogged and the swelling can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a sign of severe infection. You should make an appointment with us right away 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.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you believe that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you determine 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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