Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing noises in your ear can all be symptoms of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you should know.

Do you hear phantom sounds such as thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But those noises are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we typically view our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. You may hear some of these common tinnitus noises and here are some indications of what they might be telling you about your hearing. Though the majority are harmless (and short-term), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are persistent, cause pain, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

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

We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you may hear crackling or popping noises. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

It’s an automatic system, but sometimes, like if you are dealing with inflammation from 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 chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage may call for surgical intervention. If you’re experiencing persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

I’m hearing vibrations in my ear – what could that mean?

Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious symptom of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical name for when a person hears unusual noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any external sources. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it occurs across the spectrum, from barely noticeable to debilitating.

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 might be getting low, you need to adjust the volume, 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 kind of noise, it could also be the result of accumulated earwax.

It seems logical that excessive wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax produce a sound? Your eardrum can be impeded if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is a sign 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 happening with your health. While it could be as simple as wax buildup, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you discover what the underlying health condition may be.

What are the weird rumblings i’m hearing?

This particular symptom is self-created. In some cases, you will hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside your ears contracting in order to dampen sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds occur so close to your ears and so often that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. In very rare situations, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble at will. In other circumstances, people 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 frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after a workout? Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters exactly 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 condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly 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 success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re probably not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Some of the body’s largest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a tough workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your pulse.

Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that isn’t the case 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 thumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. 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.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health problem, such as 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 after a good scare or workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also occur when you swallow for similar reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus empties from the head. In some rare cases, 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 produces the feeling that your ears are clogged and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be an indication of severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like pain in the ear, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule a consultation immediately. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head clears of mucus.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to discuss treatments available to you.

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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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