Crackling in your ear? Crackling, buzzing, “static”, or whooshing sounds in your ear can all be indications of a condition known as tinnitus. Here’s what you need to know.
Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come out of nowhere? If you have hearing aids, it may mean that they need adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those noises may just be coming from inside of your ear.
Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Your ears have much more going on inside than what they appear to be on the outside. You might hear some of these common tinnitus sounds and here are some indications of what they may be telling you about your hearing. Though the majority 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.
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 could hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, which is a tiny tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. When the pressure in these mucus lined passageways equalizes, the passages open up allowing air and mucus to circulate.
It’s an automatic system, but occasionally, like if you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the excess mucus in your system (keep in mind, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). 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. If you’re enduring chronic ear pain or pressure and haven’t been able to get any relief, you should make an appointment with us to get diagnosed.
What does it mean when I hear vibrations in my ear?
In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious indication of tinnitus. The term tinnitus relates to a condition where noises are heard in the ears but those noises don’t originate in the outside world. The intensity of the sound can range from extremely quiet to deafening 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: your batteries might be running low, you need to adjust the volume, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting right in your ear. But these sounds can also be caused 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 can earwax make a sound? Your eardrum can be inhibited if wax is pressing against it and that can generate these sounds.
And yes, excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a form 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 could be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be connected to more severe issues like anxiety and depression. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you determine what the underlying health condition may be.
What are the unusual rumblings i’m hearing?
This specific symptom is self-created. Occasionally, 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 soften sounds you make. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.
These sounds occur so often, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. In very rare cases, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and produce that rumble at will. In other circumstances, individuals suffer from tympani muscle spasms caused by tonic tensor tympani syndrome, or TTTS. People dealing with tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific frequencies of sound, commonly experience TTTS.
What about a fluttering sound?
Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after exercising? Muscle spasms cause those flutters just like the ones in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called 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 controlled using muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to correct the condition is an alternative if the medications don’t work, but results vary from procedure to procedure.
Why are my ears drumming, thumping, and pulsing so much?
You’re likely not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Your ears are really close to some major veins and arteries and if you just did a hard workout, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will most likely hear your own pulse.
Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that’s not 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. If your heart is racing, it’s not unusual to hear your own heartbeat, but if you’re hearing this thumping at other times that isn’t normal.
If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a good idea to come in for a consultation. If it persists, pulsatile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health concerns. Sometimes, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to relate any heart health history to us. But after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should return to normal when 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. Repeated clicking can frequently be heard when you have muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also happen when you swallow for similar 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 cases indicate a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.
Is ear popping an indication of infection?
Sometimes, an ear infection causes the feeling that your ears are full and the inflammation can make your ears pop. If your ears are popping, it could be an indication of acute infection. You should schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head drains 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 consult with us and we can help you determine what treatments are best for your situation.
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