Why do I Hear Crackling in my Ear?

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 signs of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you need to know.

Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside of your ear.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. 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 instance, the ear. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside of your ears, and what they might suggest is going on. Though most are harmless (and short-term), it’s a smart idea 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 causing it

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you might hear popping or crackling noises. 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 an excess of mucus in these passages, often due to a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become gummed-up and the ordinarily automatic process will get disrupted. There might be situations where a surgery is required in more extreme cases where decongestants, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. The word tinnitus relates 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 tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting securely within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting low. But these noises can also be caused by too much earwax.

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

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a type of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. While it could be as simple as earwax accumulation, tinnitus is also associated with conditions like depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition may be.

What are the weird rumblings in my ear?

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

These sounds happen so often, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual cases, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, 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 certain frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Muscle spasms cause 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 disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications don’t work, 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 pulsing in your ears, you’re most likely right. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just did a hard workout, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will probably hear your own pulse.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus is easy for us to diagnose since we can listen in on your ears and hear the thumping and pulsing too. If your heart is racing, it’s not abnormal to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that isn’t normal.

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 condition rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health concern, 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 if you just had a hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure inside your ears is balanced, as previously stated, by the eustachian tubes. 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 trigger a repeated clicking sound. For a similar reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. This is caused by the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus empties from the head. In some rare instances, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Ear infections sometimes cause swelling which can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a symptom of acute infection. If you have any other symptoms, like pain in the ear, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

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

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.