Crackling in your ear? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing sounds in your ear can all be symptoms of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you should know.
Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But those noises are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.
This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even though we typically think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are a few of the more common sounds you might hear inside of your ears, and what they might suggest is going on. Though most 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?
It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you might hear crackling or popping sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. 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 occasionally, like if you are dealing with inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the overabundance of mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). In severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage might call for surgery. If you’re enduring 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 does that mean?
Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus relates to a disorder where sounds are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from extremely quiet to earsplitting and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.
Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?
There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you wear hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting securely within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. But these sounds can also be caused by too much earwax.
Accumulated earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it more challenging to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it create sounds. Your eardrum can be inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.
And yes, excessive, chronic buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, rather, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as simple as earwax buildup, tinnitus is also associated with conditions like depression and anxiety. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health issue 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 particular symptom is self-created. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. Your body is attempting to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to do that. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.
These sounds happen so frequently, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. In extremely rare situations, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble on cue. In other cases, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have shown that TTTS occurs frequently in people with tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and frequencies.
What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?
Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Muscle spasms cause those flutters exactly like the ones in your ears. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, impacts the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially controlled with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to eliminate 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
If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump inside your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s largest 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 disorder like high blood pressure – your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse.
This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. 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 heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that isn’t normal.
If you do experience this pumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. 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 inside your ears is kept in balance, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.
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. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule a consultation immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.
Can I stop this crackling in my ears?
Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you determine what treatments are best for your situation.