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Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling sound? Buzzing, crackling, “static”, or whooshing sounds in your ear can all be indications of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you need to know.

Do you hear phantom noises such as thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But those noises are most likely coming from inside of your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even though we generally 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 noises you might hear inside your ears, and what they might indicate is going on. Though the majority are harmless (and short-term), it’s a good plan to see us if any of these noises are chronic, cause pain, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in I’m hearing?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for sure. You might hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. 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 have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get clogged from the excess mucus in your system (keep in mind, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There may be situations where a surgical procedure is called for in more severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t get any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

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

Vibrations in the ear are in some cases 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 there to debilitating.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also several reasons why you may hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could also be the result of excess earwax.

It seems logical that too much wax could make it tough to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax make a sound? If it is touching your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what produces the buzzing or ringing.

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a type of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, rather, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. Your tinnitus could be caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be connected to more severe problems such as anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the root health condition might be.

What’s causing my ears to rumble?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. In some cases, you will hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears tensing in order to soften sounds you make. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds manifest so near to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare cases, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Studies have revealed that TTTS happens frequently in individuals who have tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and wavelengths.

What causes a fluttering noise 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 no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially controlled using muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle condition. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an option if the medications aren’t working, but results vary from procedure to procedure.

I hear a pumping 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 anxious you will most likely hear your own heartbeat.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that’s not the case with pulsitile tinnitus. 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 pulsitile tinnitus. If your heart is pounding, it’s not unusual to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that isn’t normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, 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 might indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it persists. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For a similar reason, you may hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare situations, chronic clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the tiny bones in your ear.

Does it mean I have an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are clogged and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it may be a sign of acute infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule a consultation immediately. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

How do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and think you may have tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you determine what treatments are best for your situation.

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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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