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HEARING TIPS

Man plugging ear with index finger because he suffers from tinnitus


Do you hear a crackling noise? A condition called tinnitus can cause you to hear crackling, buzzing, whooshing, or other sounds in your ears. Here’s what you need to know.

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that seem to come out of nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it may mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t correctly fitted. But if you don’t have hearing aids, those sounds may just be coming from inside of your ear.

Don’t worry there’s no need to stress. Even though we typically think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s more than meets the eye – or in this instance, the ear. You might hear some of these prevalent tinnitus sounds and here are some indications of what they might 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 persistent, painful, or are otherwise impeding your quality of life.

There’s a snap, crackle, and pop in my ears but what’s the cause?

It’s not Rice Krispies, that’s for certain. You might hear crackling or popping when you have a pressure change, whether from going underwater, a change in altitude, or just yawning. These sounds are caused by a tiny part of your ear known as the eustachian tube. 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, frequently due to a cold, allergies, or an ear infection, they can get clogged and the ordinarily automatic process will get disrupted. In severe cases where chicken noodle soup, decongestants, or antibiotics don’t give relief, a blockage could require surgical intervention. You should make an appointment with us if you can’t get any relief from the nagging ear pain and pressure.

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

Vibrations in the ear are in some cases a telltale sign 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. 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 triggering this ringing in my ears?

Again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds for a number of reasons: your batteries may be getting low, you need a volume adjustment, or maybe your hearing aids aren’t fitting properly in your ear. But if you don’t use hearing aids and you’re hearing this kind of noise, it could also be caused by accumulated earwax.

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

Ongoing buzzing or ringing is an indication that you are coping with tinnitus. And the noises generated by earwax are actually a form of tinnitus. Tinnitus itself is usually a symptom of something else going on with your health and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Your tinnitus could be triggered by simple earwax accumulation but it can also be associated with more serious issues such as anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the root health problem can help relieve tinnitus, so you should consult with us to find out more about ways to minimize your symptoms.

What are the weird rumblings i’m hearing?

This particular symptom is self-created. In some cases, 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. Some of these sounds include your own voice, chewing, and yawning.

Those sounds manifest so close to your ears and so frequently that the level of noise would be damaging without these muscles. One of these muscles, known as the tensor tympani can, in extremely unusual situations, be intentionally controlled to produce this rumbling. In other cases, a condition known as tonic tensor tympani syndrome (TTTS) will cause people to suffer from tensor tympani muscle spasms. People suffering from tinnitus or hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to certain frequencies of sound, frequently experience TTTS.

What causes a fluttering noise in my ear?

Have you ever felt a flutter in your legs or arms after a workout? Those flutters are normally the result of a muscle spasm, and it’s no different from the fluttering you hear in your ears. Middle ear myoclonus, also called MEM tinnitus, is a condition that impacts the above mentioned tensor tympani muscle and the stapedius muscle in your middle ear. Since this is a muscle condition, muscle relaxers and anticonvulsants are commonly used as a first-round treatment to bring the fluttering under control. If medications don’t help, inner ear surgery can have varying degrees of success.

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

You’re probably not off base if you think you 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 anxious you will probably hear your own heartbeat.

This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that others can hear. Pulsatile tinnitus isn’t hard for us to diagnose since 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 thumping at other times that’s not normal.

If you do experience this thumping or pulsing every day, it’s probably a smart move to come in for a consultation. Like other forms 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 the result of 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 goes back to normal.

Why does my ear keep clicking?

The pressure in your ears is kept in balance, as previously discussed, by the eustachian tubes. Repeated clicking can often be heard when you get muscle spasms in the muscles close to the eustachian tubes (like in the roof of your mouth). Clicking can also take place when you swallow for similar reasons. What you’re hearing, is the Eustachian tube opening and closing. Some individuals report 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.

Does it mean I’m dealing with an infection if my ears are popping?

Ear infections sometimes produce swelling which can make your ears pop. Popping in your ear can be an indication of a severe infection. If you are dealing with any other symptoms, such as ear pain, abrupt hearing loss, or fever, you should schedule an appointment immediately. Sometimes, after an infection, as your head clears 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? Come in and see us and we can help you determine 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.
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