Lake Murray Hearing - Columbia and Lexington, SC

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling sound? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing noises in your ear can all be signs 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 this is happening with hearing aids, it may mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those noises are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

Don’t fret there’s no need to panic. Even though we generally view our ears with respect to what we see externally, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are a few of the more common noises you may hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is happening. Most of these noises are short-term and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are chronic you should get a consultation with us.

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 could hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear called 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 too much mucus in these passages, often as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get gummed-up and the ordinarily automatic process will get disrupted. In serious situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage might call for surgery. If you’re suffering from persistent ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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

Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telling sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus refers to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from extremely quiet to deafening and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?

Once again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds for numerous reasons: your batteries might be getting low, you need to adjust the volume, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But these sounds can also be produced by an excessive amount of earwax.

It makes sense that too much wax could make it difficult to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax produce a sound? Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a type of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, instead, it’s a symptom of something else going on 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 problem can help alleviate tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to decrease your symptoms.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This particular symptom is self-created. Occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside your ears tensing in order to soften sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds occur so near to your ears and so often that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in very rare situations, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Those flutters are normally the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially managed with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle condition. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

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

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing in your ears, you’re probably right. 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.

This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus is not difficult for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing too. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it should not be something you need to live with on a daily basis.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in for a consultation. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health problem, such as high blood pressure, if it continues. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to a heart condition. But if you just had a good workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As noted above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for example in the roof of your mouth, it can cause a repeated clicking noise. For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some people report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare instances, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are clogged and the swelling can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it may be an indication of acute infection. If you have any other symptoms, like pain in the ear, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule a consultation right away. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling sound 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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