Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other noises in your ears. 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 sounds are most likely coming from inside of your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.
Don’t worry there’s no need to panic. Even though we mostly view our ears in terms of 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 might indicate is going on. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are persistent, painful, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.
There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s causing it
We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. You might hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from a change in altitude, going under water, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these sounds. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.
It’s an automatic process, but occasionally, like if you are dealing with inflammation from 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). In extreme cases where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.
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 relates to a disorder where noises are heard in the ears but those sounds 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 noticeable to debilitating.
Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?
Once again, if you use hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds for numerous reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of sound, it could also be caused by excess earwax.
Excess earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more challenging to hear, as well as the potential of an ear infection, but how can it produce sounds. Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.
And yes, excessive, chronic buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the sounds generated by earwax are actually a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as basic as wax accumulation, 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 reduce your symptoms.
What are the unusual rumblings i’m hearing?
This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you’re hearing it, you’re the one making the sound happen. In some cases, you will hear a low rumble when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears contracting in order to soften sounds you make. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.
Those sounds occur 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 situations, be purposely controlled to generate this rumbling. In other cases, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Individuals dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.
What about a fluttering noise?
Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Muscle spasms are the cause of 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 a first-round 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.
Why are my ears drumming, pumping, and pulsing so much?
You’re likely not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. Your ears are really close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will probably hear your own pulse.
This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to 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 pumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s pounding, it should not be something you have to live with every day.
It’s a good idea to come see us if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another condition rather than a disease, so it might indicate a health problem, such as high blood pressure, if it continues. 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 workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.
Why does my ear keep clicking?
As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you have 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 sound. For a similar reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some people report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare cases, persistent clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.
Is ear popping an indication of infection?
Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it could 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, abrupt hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.
Can I stop this crackling in my ears?
Do you hear a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to discuss treatments available to you.