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.
Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those sounds might just be coming from inside of your ear.
This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we generally view our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they may suggest is happening. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a good idea to see us if any of these noises are chronic, cause pain, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.
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 in your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.
If you have an excess of mucus inside of these passages, often as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will become interrupted. In severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage may require surgery. 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?
Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus relates to a disorder where noises 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 occurs across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.
Is the ringing and buzzing in my ear tinnitus?
There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting securely within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are running low. But these sounds can also be produced by an excessive amount of 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 produce a sound? Your eardrum can be inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.
And yes, excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, rather, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. Your tinnitus may be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be associated with more severe problems such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the underlying health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should speak with us to learn more about ways to minimize your symptoms.
What’s causing rumbling in my ears?
This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound happen. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. 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 happen so frequently, and are so near to your ears, without these muscles your ears can be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other cases, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound, commonly experience TTTS.
What about a fluttering sound?
After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. Muscle spasms cause those flutters just like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects the above mentioned 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. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.
I hear a pumping or pulsing in my ears
You’re probably not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s biggest 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 condition 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 other people can hear. If you come in to see us, 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 shouldn’t be something you need to live with every day.
If you do experience this pumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a smart move 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, like high blood pressure, if it continues. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. 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?
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). For the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. This is caused by the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some people report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare situations, persistent clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the fragile 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 an indication of an acute infection. If you have any other symptoms, such as pain in the ear, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule a consultation right away. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.
How do I stop my ears from crackling?
Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to talk about treatments available to you.