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Man touching ear in response to crackling noises in his ear.

Do you ever hear sounds that appear to come out of nowhere, like buzzing, thumping, or crackling? Possibly, if you have hearing aids, they need to be fitted or need adjustment. But it might also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds may be coming from your ears. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common sounds you might hear in your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are painful and persistent, even though the majority are short-term and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether it’s from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you might hear crackling or popping noises. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling fluid and air to pass, these crackling sounds are produced. Occasionally this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation brought about by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum up the ears. In severe cases, when decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t provide relief, a blockage might call for surgical intervention. If you’re experiencing lasting ear pain or pressure, you probably should consult a professional.

Could The Buzzing or Ringing be Tinnitus?

Again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t fitting properly in your ears, the volume is too high, or you have low batteries. If you’re not wearing hearing aids, earwax could be your problem. It seems logical that excessive wax might make it tough to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how could it make a sound? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can inhibit the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. The good news is, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (Don’t try to do this by yourself!) Intense, prolonged buzzing or ringing is known as tinnitus. There are a number of kinds of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health concern and is not itself a disorder or disease. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be connected to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the fundamental health problem can help alleviate tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This sound is caused by our own body and is much less common. Have you ever noticed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumbling? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help reduce the internal volume of some natural actions such as your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the contraction of these muscles in response to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. We’re not claiming you chew too loudly, it’s just that those sounds are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be harmful. (And since never speaking or chewing isn’t a good solution, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) It’s extremely unusual, but certain people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your probably not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have some of the bodies biggest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from that big job interview or a tough workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to see a hearing expert, he or she will be able to hear it as well. While it’s completely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, if it’s something you’re dealing with on a daily basis, it’s a wise decision to see a doctor. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; if it continues, it may indicate a health concern. But if you just had a good workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

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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