The Hearing Loss Treatment Center - St Clair Shores and Monroe, MI

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition known as tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you should know.

Do you hear phantom noises such as thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If this is happening with hearing aids, it could mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside of your ear.

Don’t worry there’s no need to panic. Even though we generally think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. You might hear some of these common tinnitus noises and here are some indications of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a good plan to see us if any of these noises are chronic, painful, 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’s not the Rice Krispies. You could hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from a change in altitude, going under water, or just yawning. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing air and fluid to circulate and equalize the pressure in your ears.

If you have too much mucus inside of these passages, frequently as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become gummed-up and the ordinarily automatic process will become disrupted. In severe situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage might call for surgical intervention. If you’re enduring chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get 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 telling sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when somebody hears unusual noises, such as vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any outside sources. The intensity of the sound can range from very quiet to deafening and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

Once again, if you wear hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds for numerous reasons: 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 seems logical that excessive wax could make it hard to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how can earwax make a sound? If it is pressing against your eardrum, it can actually restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, significant, chronic ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. And the noises produced by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is typically a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Your tinnitus could be caused by simple earwax build up but it can also be linked to more serious problems such as anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you understand what the underlying health condition might be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This particular symptom is self-produced. In some cases, you can hear a low rumbling when you yawn. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside of your ears tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds occur so near to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be harmful without these muscles. In extremely rare cases, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble on cue. In other cases, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What about a fluttering noise?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Muscle spasms cause those flutters just like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as 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 disorder. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an option if the medications don’t work, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

I hear a thumping or pulsing in my ears

You’re probably not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if your heart rate is high – whether from a hard workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your pulse.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that isn’t the case 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. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it shouldn’t be something you need to live with every day.

It’s a smart idea to come in for a consultation if you’re hearing this pulsing every day. If it persists, 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 if you just had a good workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is kept in balance, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. 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). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for similar reasons. This is caused by the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. A clicking can occasionally be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare instances, chronic clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.

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 a sign of severe infection. You should schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt loss of hearing, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head clears of mucus.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Are you hearing 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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