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 some info.
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 those sounds are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.
This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we typically think of our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. The majority of these sounds are short-term and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.
There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s the cause?
It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You could 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 small part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.
If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, frequently as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get gummed-up and the ordinarily automatic process will become disrupted. There could be situations where a surgery is called for in more extreme cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should make 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 could that mean?
Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious symptom 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. Most people will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.
Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?
There are also numerous reasons why you may hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: your batteries may be running low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could also be the result of excess earwax.
It seems logical that excessive wax could make it tough to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax make a sound? If it is pressing against your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.
Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive 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. While it could be as simple as earwax 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 root health condition may be.
What’s causing rumbling in my ears?
This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound happen. In some cases, you can hear a low rumbling when you yawn. Your body is trying to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to accomplish that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.
Those sounds occur so near to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be harmful without these muscles. In extremely rare cases, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble on cue. In other cases, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, commonly experience TTTS.
What about a fluttering noise?
After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. 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. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but results vary from procedure to procedure.
I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears
If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump inside your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s biggest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – 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 pulse.
This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that other people can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus is not difficult for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing as well. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it should not be something you need to live with on a daily basis.
If you do experience this thumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus may be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to 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 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 sound. 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 sometimes be heard when mucus drains from the head. A clicking can, in rare instances indicate a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.
Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?
Ear infections sometimes generate swelling which can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a sign of severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.
How do I stop my ears from crackling?
Do you believe that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to find out about treatments available to you.