Louisville Family Audiology - Louisville, KY

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing sounds in your ear can all be signs of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you need to know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come from nowhere? If this is occurring with hearing aids, it could mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those noises are probably coming from inside your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

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 instance, the ear. You may hear some of these prevalent tinnitus noises and here are some signs of what they might be telling you about your hearing. Most of these sounds are temporary and harmless but if you have tinnitus noises that cause pain or are chronic you should schedule a consultation with us.

What’s the cause of the snap, crackle, and pop in my ear?

We can tell you one thing, it’s not 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. 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 due to a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the normally automatic process will get disrupted. There may be situations where a surgery is required in more extreme 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 find any relief from the nagging ear pain and pressure.

What does it mean when I hear vibrations in my ear?

Vibrations in the ear are sometimes a telltale sign of tinnitus. The term tinnitus relates to a condition where sounds are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from extremely quiet to earsplitting and most individuals will refer to it as ringing in the ears.

Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?

There are also numerous reasons why you might hear these sounds if you use hearing aids: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or your batteries are getting low. But these noises can also be produced by too much earwax.

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

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is commonly a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as simple as earwax buildup, tinnitus is also linked with conditions such as depression and anxiety. 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 are the peculiar rumblings i’m hearing?

This specific symptom is self-produced. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble in your ears. That rumble is the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears tensing in order to dampen sounds you make. They reduce the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds occur so frequently, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in very unusual situations, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific wavelengths of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. Those flutters are typically the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s the same as the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts 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

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing in your ears, you’re probably 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 probably hear your own heartbeat.

Most kinds of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people 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 thumping of your pulsatile tinnitus. If your heart is pounding, it’s not abnormal to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that’s not normal.

If you do experience this pumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in and see us. If it continues, pulsatile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. It’s important to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to 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 returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep the pressure equal in your ears. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that are close to the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking noise. Clicking can also happen when you swallow for similar reasons. This is a result of the opening and closing of the eustachian tubes. Some individuals report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. In some rare instances, persistent clicking could be a sign of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are full and the swelling can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be an indication of a severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, like ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule an appointment immediately. Sometimes, your ears will pop after an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you believe that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to talk about treatments available to you.

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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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