Florida Hearing Matters - Fort Lauderdale, FL

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? 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 sounds that seem to come from nowhere? If this is happening with hearing aids, it may mean you need to come in and get an adjustment. But those sounds are most likely coming from inside your ears if you don’t use hearing aids.

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 may hear some of these prevalent tinnitus sounds and here are some signs of what they might be telling you about your hearing. Though most are harmless (and temporary), it’s a good idea 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. You might hear popping or crackling when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. 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.

If you have too much mucus in these passages, often as a result of a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will become disrupted. There could be situations where a surgical procedure is required in more extreme cases where decongestant sprays, chicken noodle soup, or antibiotics don’t do the trick. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t find any relief from the constant ear pain and pressure.

I’m hearing vibrations in my ear – what could that mean?

In some cases, vibrations in the ear are an obvious symptom of tinnitus. Technically, tinnitus is the medical name for when a person hears abnormal sounds, like vibrations, in their ears that don’t originate from any outside sources. Most individuals 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?

Again, if you use hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds for a number of reasons: the hearing aids aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be caused by excess earwax.

It makes sense that too much wax could make it tough to hear and cause itchiness or even inner ear infections, but how could earwax make a sound? If it is pressing against your eardrum, it can actually inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, which is what triggers the buzzing or ringing.

And yes, significant, chronic ringing or buzzing is indicative of tinnitus. Even ringing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else happening with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Your tinnitus might be triggered by simple earwax build up but it can also be associated with more severe problems such as depression and anxiety. Let us help you diagnose and find some relief for your tinnitus symptoms by helping you discover what the underlying health condition may be.

What are the weird rumblings i’m hearing?

This specific symptom is self-created. Sometimes, you will 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. They turn down the volume on yawning, chewing, and even your own voice.

These sounds happen 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 very unusual situations, be purposely controlled to produce this rumbling. 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 who have tinnitus and those suffering from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to particular sound volumes and frequencies.

What about a fluttering sound?

After you exercise, have you ever felt a flutter in your legs and arms. Those flutters are normally the result of 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 aforementioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Usually, this condition is initially controlled with muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants, since it’s a muscle condition. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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 biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if your heart rate is up – whether from a hard workout, big job interview, or a medical disorder like high blood pressure – your ears will tune in to the sound of your pulse.

Most forms of tinnitus can’t be heard by others but that isn’t the situation with pulsitile tinnitus. Pulsatile tinnitus is easy for us to diagnose because we can listen in on your ears and hear the pumping and pulsing as well. While it’s completely 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 pumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in and see us. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom of another ailment rather than a disease, so it might 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 after a good scare or hard workout, your hearing should return to normal when your heart rate goes back to normal.

What’s this clicking sound?

As stated above, the Eustachian tube helps keep equal pressure in your ears. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles near the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). For a similar reason, you might hear clicking when you swallow. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals report hearing a clicking sound when their head drains of mucus. In some rare instances, persistent clicking could be an indication of a fracture in one of the fragile bones in your ear.

Does it mean I have an infection if my ears are popping?

Sometimes, an ear infection causes the feeling that your ears are full and the inflammation can cause your ears to pop. Popping in your ear can be a sign of a severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, such as ear pain, sudden hearing loss, or fever, you need to schedule an appointment right away. Sometimes, your ears will pop in the days following an infection or cold as your head drains of mucus.

Can I stop this crackling in my ears?

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

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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.