Audiology Associates of North Florida - Tallahassee, FL

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s some info.

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 sounds are probably coming from inside of your ears if you don’t have hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we typically think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. You may hear some of these common tinnitus noises and here are some signs of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Most of these sounds are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus sounds that are painful or are chronic you should schedule 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. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you could hear crackling or popping noises. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. 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 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 overabundance of mucus in your system (remember, your ears, nose, and throat are all linked). In serious cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. If you’re experiencing 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 telltale sign of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical term for when someone hears unusual noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any external sources. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to debilitating.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

Once again, if you wear hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries may be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or perhaps your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But these noises can also be caused by too much earwax.

It makes sense that too much wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax make a sound? If it is pressing against your eardrum, it can actually restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what triggers the buzzing or ringing.

Chronic buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. And the sounds produced by earwax are actually a kind 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 caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be connected to more severe issues like depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition may be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This particular symptom is self-produced. Occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside of your ears contracting in order to soften sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so often that the level of noise would be harmful without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in very unusual cases, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have shown that TTTS occurs often in people who have tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and wavelengths.

What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Those flutters are usually the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as the fluttering you hear 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 option if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re likely not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Your ears are really 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 most likely hear your own heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other types 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 pumping of your pulsitile 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 thumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a good idea to come in for a consultation. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. But after a good scare or hard 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 balanced, as previously discussed, 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 may hear clicking when you swallow. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus empties from the head. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Is ear popping a sign of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are clogged and the swelling can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be an indication of acute infection. You need to schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you suspect that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to talk about 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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