Call or Text Us! 847-453-3643
Evanston Audiology - Evanston, IL

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


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

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come out of nowhere? If this is happening with hearing aids, it might 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 worry there’s no need to stress. Even though we generally 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 noises you might hear inside of your ears, and what they might suggest is happening. The majority of these noises are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.

What’s causing the snap, crackle, and pop in my ear?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. You may 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 tiny part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.

It’s an automatic process, but occasionally, like if you are dealing with inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the excess mucus in your system (don’t forget, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There might be situations where a surgery is required in more serious cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. If you’re enduring chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to find any relief, you should schedule an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.

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

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious symptom 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. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely noticeable to unbearable.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But these noises can also be caused by an excessive amount of earwax.

Too much earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it harder to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it generate sounds. If it is touching your eardrum, it can actually hinder the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, significant, chronic buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, alternatively, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. Your tinnitus might be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be linked to more serious issues such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should consult with us to learn more about ways to decrease your symptoms.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound happen. Sometimes, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside of your ears contracting in order to soften sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

These sounds occur so often, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. In very rare situations, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble on cue. In other cases, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, commonly experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering sound?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters exactly like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as a first-round treatment to bring the fluttering under control. Inner ear surgery to correct 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 occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat thump in your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s largest veins run very 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 heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. 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 completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it should not be something you have to live with every day.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a good idea to come in and see us. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it might indicate a health concern, such as high blood pressure, if it persists. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to a heart condition. But if you just had a hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or pumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for the same reasons. This is a result of 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 point to a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.

Is ear popping a sign of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are full and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a symptom of severe infection. You should schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

Do you suspect that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to find out about treatments available to you.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

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.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call Us Today