Crackling in your ear? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other noises in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.
Do you hear phantom noises such as thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If this is occurring with hearing aids, it could mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside of your ear.
Don’t worry there’s no need to panic. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be on the outside. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside of your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a good plan to see us if any of these noises are persistent, painful, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.
What’s causing the snap, crackle, and pop in I’m hearing?
It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You may 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.
If you have an excess of mucus in these passages, often as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the normally automatic process will become interrupted. In extreme situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage could require surgery. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the nagging 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 refers to a condition where sounds are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. Most people will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.
Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?
There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: your batteries may be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But these noises can also be produced by too much earwax.
Accumulated earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it harder to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it generate sounds. Your eardrum can be restricted if wax is pressing against it and that can create these sounds.
And yes, excessive, chronic ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Keep in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder, instead, it’s a symptom of something else happening with your health. While it could be as basic as earwax buildup, tinnitus is also associated with conditions like anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should speak with us to learn more about ways to decrease your symptoms.
What’s causing rumbling in my ears?
This specific symptom is self-created. Sometimes, you will hear a low rumbling when you yawn. Your body is attempting to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to do that. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.
Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so frequently that the noise level would be harmful without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely rare situations, be intentionally controlled to generate this rumbling. In other circumstances, 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 noise?
Have you ever felt a flutter in your arms or legs after exercising? Those flutters are normally caused by a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as MEM tinnitus, is a condition that affects the aforementioned 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 disorder. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.
Why are my ears drumming, pumping, and pulsing so much?
You’re probably not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Some of the body’s largest 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 heartbeat.
Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that isn’t the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. 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. 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’s not normal.
If you do experience this thumping 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 may indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it persists. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can indicate a heart condition. But if you just had a good workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or pumping as soon as 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 trigger a repeated clicking sound. Clicking can also happen when you swallow for the same reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals describe hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare instances point to a fracture of one of the small bones of the ears.
Does it mean I have an infection if my ears are popping?
Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it might be an indication of acute infection. You need to make an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, like ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head clears of mucus.
How do I stop my ears from crackling?
Do you believe that the crackling noise in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to find out about treatments available to you.