Crackling in your ear? Buzzing, crackling, “static”, or whooshing sounds in your ear can all be indications of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s some info.
Do you hear phantom sounds such as thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside your ear.
This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Your ears have a lot more going on inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are a few of the more common sounds you might hear inside your ears, and what they may suggest is happening. The majority of these noises are short-term and innocuous but if you have tinnitus noises that are painful or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.
What’s causing the snap, crackle, and pop in my ear?
We can tell you one thing, it isn’t the Rice Krispies. You could hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. 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, frequently due to allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the normally automatic process will get disrupted. In serious situations where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. If you’re experiencing chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get a diagnosis.
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 word tinnitus relates to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those sounds don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity level of the sound can range from really quiet to earsplitting and most people will refer to it as ringing in the ears.
Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?
There are also several 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 running low. But these sounds can also be produced by an excessive amount of earwax.
Too much 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 inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can create these sounds.
Ongoing buzzing or ringing is a sign that you are coping with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much 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 disease or disorder. Your tinnitus might be caused by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be linked to more serious issues 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 rumbling in my ears?
This specific symptom is self-produced. Sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you will hear a low rumble. That rumble is the sound of little muscles inside of your ears contracting in order to dampen sounds you make. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.
These sounds take place 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 intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals 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?
After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Those flutters are usually caused by 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. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as an initial treatment to bring the fluttering under control. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications aren’t working, but results vary from procedure to procedure.
Why are my ears drumming, thumping, 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 biggest veins run really 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 pick up the sound of your heartbeat.
Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that isn’t the situation with pulsatile 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 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 on a daily basis. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus might be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is the result of a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.
What’s this clicking sound?
As mentioned 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 the same reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. 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. A clicking can, in rare cases point to a fracture of one of the fragile 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. Popping in your ear can be a symptom of an acute infection. If you have any other symptoms, like pain in the ear, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule an appointment immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears of mucus, your ears will pop.
How do I stop my ears from crackling?
Are you hearing a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Come in and see us and we can help you learn what treatments are best for your situation.