Illini Hearing - Champaign and Mahomet, IL

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


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

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

This doesn’t mean you should panic. Your ears have much more happening inside than what they appear to be externally. Here are some of the more common noises you may hear inside of your ears, and what they may suggest is going on. Though the majority are harmless (and temporary), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are persistent, painful, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s causing it

It isn’t Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. When the pressure inside of your ears changes, whether from going underwater, altitude, or just yawning, you could hear crackling or popping sounds. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear known as 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, often as a result of allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the ordinarily 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 enduring persistent 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 sometimes a telling sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus relates to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. Most individuals will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it manifests across the spectrum, from barely there to unbearable.

Is tinnitus triggering this ringing in my ears?

Again, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries might be getting low, you need to adjust the volume, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be caused by accumulated earwax.

Excess earwax is well known to create itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the possibility of an ear infection, but how can it generate sounds. If it’s pressing against your eardrum, it can actually hinder the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what causes the buzzing or ringing.

Persistent buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are dealing with tinnitus. Even ringing from too much earwax counts as a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as basic as wax buildup, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you discover what the underlying health condition may be.

What are the unusual rumblings i’m hearing?

This next symptom is less common than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound happen. In some cases, you will hear a low rumble when you yawn. Your body is trying to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to do that. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so often that the noise level would be damaging without these muscles. In extremely rare situations, some individuals can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble at will. In other circumstances, people suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. Individuals suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering sound in my ear?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. Muscle spasms are the cause of those flutters just like the ones in your ears. MEM tinnitus, or middle ear myoclonus, affects the stapedius muscle and the tympani tensor muscles of the middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially managed using muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an option if the medications aren’t working, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

Why are my ears drumming, pumping, and pulsing so much?

If you occasionally feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat pulsing inside your ears, you’re probably right. Some of the body’s largest veins run really close to your ears, and if your heart rate is high – whether from a tough workout, big job interview, or a medical condition like high blood pressure – your ears will pick up the sound of your heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and in contrast to other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that other people can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus is not difficult for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing too. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it should not be something you have to live with on a daily basis.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in and see us. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it may indicate a health concern, like high blood pressure, if it persists. It’s essential to tell us about your heart health history as pulsatile tinnitus can point to a heart condition. But if you just had a hard workout (or a good scare), you should stop hearing the pulsing or thumping as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As mentioned above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. If you get a muscle spasm in the muscles that surround the Eustachian tube, like for instance in the roof of your mouth, it can trigger a repeated clicking sound. For a similar reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus empties from the head. A clicking can, in rare instances indicate a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.

Is ear popping a symptom of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection produces the feeling that your ears are clogged and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it could be an indication of acute infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, such as pain in the ear, sudden 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 do I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you suspect that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Come in and consult with us and we can help you learn what treatments are best for your situation.

Call Today to Set Up an Appointment

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.
Why wait? You don't have to live with hearing loss. Call or Text Us