Crackling in your ear? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear buzzing, crackling, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.
Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, ringing, or buzzing in your ears? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But those sounds are probably coming from inside of your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.
This doesn’t mean you should panic. Even though we typically think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this case, the ear. Here are a few of the more common noises you might hear inside your ears, and what they might indicate is happening. Most of these sounds are temporary and innocuous but if you have tinnitus sounds that cause pain or are persistent you should schedule a consultation with us.
There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s causing it
We can tell you one thing, it isn’t 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. These noises are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.
It’s an automatic system, but sometimes, like if you are dealing with inflammation caused by allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, your eustachian tubes can literally get gummed up from the overabundance of mucus in your system (remember, your ears, nose, and throat are all connected). There might be situations where a surgery is called for in more serious cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t help. You should schedule an appointment with us if you can’t get any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.
What does it mean when I hear vibrations in my ear?
Sometimes, vibrations in the ear are an obvious sign of tinnitus. Technically speaking, tinnitus is the medical name for when someone hears unusual noises, like vibrations, in their ears that do not come from any outside sources. Most people will refer to it as a ringing in the ears and it occurs across the spectrum, from barely noticeable to debilitating.
Is tinnitus causing this ringing in my ears?
Once again, if you use hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds for a number of reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting properly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t have hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could also be caused by excess earwax.
Too much earwax is well known to cause itchiness and to make it more difficult to hear, as well as the potential of an ear infection, but how can it produce sounds. If it’s touching your eardrum, it can actually restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what triggers the buzzing or ringing.
And yes, excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. And the sounds 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. While it could be as basic as earwax buildup, tinnitus is also linked with 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 root health condition might be.
What’s causing my ears to rumble?
This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound happen. In some cases, you can hear a low rumble when you yawn. Your body is attempting to soften sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears tensing little muscles in order to accomplish that. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.
These sounds take place so often, and are so close to your ears, without these muscles your ears could be damaged. One of these muscles, called the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be purposely controlled to generate this rumbling. In other circumstances, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause individuals to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Studies have revealed that TTTS happens often in individuals who have tinnitus and those dealing with hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to specific sound volumes and wavelengths.
What about a fluttering sound?
After you workout, have you ever felt a flutter in your arms and legs. Muscle spasms cause those flutters exactly 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. Since this is a muscle disorder, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are typically used as an initial treatment to control the fluttering. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.
Why are my ears drumming, pumping, and pulsing so much?
You’re probably not off base if you think you can hear your own pulse or heartbeat in 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 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 unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. 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 pulsitile tinnitus. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, it should not be something you need to live with every day.
If you do experience this thumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a smart move to come in for a consultation. If it continues, pulsitile tinnitus could be an indication of high blood pressure or other health conditions. 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 workout, your hearing should go back to normal when your heart rate returns to normal.
Why does my ear keep clicking?
The pressure in your ears is balanced, as previously mentioned, by the eustachian tubes. 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 occur when you swallow for the same reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some people report hearing a clicking noise when their head drains of mucus. A clicking can, in rare instances point to a fracture of one of the fragile bones of the ears.
Is ear popping a symptom of infection?
Ear infections sometimes cause swelling which can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it may be an indication of acute infection. You should schedule an appointment with us right away if you have any other symptoms, including ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.
How can I stop my ears from crackling?
Do you suspect that the crackling sound in your ears is tinnitus? Set up a consultation with us to find out about treatments available to you.
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