HEARING TIPS

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Crackling in your ear? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s some info.

Do you hear phantom noises like thumping, buzzing, or ringing in your ears? If you use hearing aids, it can mean that they need adjustment or aren’t correctly fitted. But those sounds are probably coming from inside your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

This doesn’t mean you need to panic. Even though we mostly think of our ears in terms of 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 common tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they might be telling you about your hearing. Though the majority are harmless (and short-term), it’s a smart plan to see us if any of these noises are persistent, painful, or are otherwise diminishing your quality of life.

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

We can tell you one thing, it’s not the Rice Krispies. When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater, or just yawning, you might hear crackling or popping noises. The eustachian tube, which is a small tube in your ear, is the cause of these noises. The crackling happens when these mucus-lined passageways open, letting fluid circulate and equalize the pressure inside your ears.

If you have too much mucus in these passages, frequently due to a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can become clogged and the normally automatic process will get disrupted. In severe cases where decongestant sprays, chicken soup, or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage could call for surgical intervention. 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?

Vibrations in the ear are in some cases a telling sign of tinnitus. The word tinnitus refers to a disorder where sounds are heard in the ears but those sounds 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 noticeable to debilitating.

Is the buzzing and ringing in my ear tinnitus?

Again, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these kinds of sounds for numerous reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting securely within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are getting low. But these sounds can also be caused by too much earwax.

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

And yes, excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is indicative of tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Bear in mind that tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease, rather, it’s a symptom of something else going on with your health. While it could be as basic as wax accumulation, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and get some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you determine what the underlying health condition might be.

What’s causing rumbling in my ears?

This next symptom is less prevalent than others, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the sound. Occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble. Your body is trying to dampen sounds you make and the rumbling is your ears contracting little muscles in order to accomplish that. 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 can be damaged. In very rare cases, some people can control one of these muscles, the tensor tympani, and generate that rumble at will. In other cases, a condition called tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. Studies have revealed that TTTS happens often in individuals with tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and wavelengths.

What about a fluttering noise?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Those flutters are usually the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also known as 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 managed using muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle disorder. Inner ear surgery to eliminate the condition is an alternative if the medications don’t work, but success varies from procedure to procedure.

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

You’re likely not off base if you think you hear your own pulse or heartbeat inside your ears. Your ears are very close to some major veins and arteries and if you just worked out, have high blood pressure, or are very nervous you will probably hear your own heartbeat.

Most types of tinnitus can’t be heard by other people but that isn’t the situation with pulsatile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is easy for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the thumping and pulsing as well. If your heart is racing, it’s not abnormal to hear your own pulse, but if you’re hearing this pumping at other times that’s not normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing daily, it’s probably a good idea to come in for a consultation. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it could indicate a health problem, like high blood pressure, if it persists. In some cases, pulsatile tinnitus is related back to a heart condition, so it’s important to talk about your heart with us. But if you just had a hard 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 equal pressure 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 cause a repeated clicking noise. Clicking can also happen when you swallow for the same reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. A clicking can sometimes be heard when mucus drains from the head. In some rare instances, chronic clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the little bones in your ear.

Is ear popping an indication of infection?

Sometimes, an ear infection creates the feeling that your ears are full and the swelling can cause your ears to pop. If your ears are popping, it might be a sign of acute infection. If you have any other symptoms, such as pain in the ear, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule an appointment immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head drains of mucus, your ears will pop.

How can I stop my ears from crackling?

Do you hear a crackling in your ear and suspect you have tinnitus? Make an appointment for a consultation with us to discuss 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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