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

Ever hear sounds that appear to come out of nowhere, such as buzzing, thumping, or crackling? If you have hearing aids, it can mean that they require adjustment or aren’t properly fitted. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. But don’t stress. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different noises you might be hearing in your ears can mean different things. Here are some of the most typical. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are impeding your quality of life or are painful and chronic, although most are temporary and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

You could hear a crackling or popping when the pressure in your ear changes, perhaps from an altitude change or from going underwater or even from yawning. These noises are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing fluid and air to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. At times this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum the ears up. sometimes surgery is needed in extreme situations when the blockage isn’t helped by decongestants or antibiotics. You should probably see a specialist if you have pressure or persistent pain.

Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?

Once more, if you have hearing aids, you may hear these types of sounds if they aren’t sitting correctly within your ears, the volume is too loud, or you have low batteries. If you aren’t wearing hearing aids, earwax might be your problem. It makes sense that too much wax may make it hard to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how could it make a sound? The ringing or buzzing is caused when the wax is pushing against the eardrum and inhibiting its movement. Fortunately, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (Don’t try to do this by yourself!) Intense, persistent ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. There are several kinds of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health issue and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be linked to depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be eased by managing the underlying health issue; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s not so common, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one making the sound to occur! Do you know that rumble you can hear sometimes when you take a really big yawn? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help minimize the internal volume of certain natural actions like your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural sounds that we hear as rumbling. We’re not claiming you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be damaging. (And since you can’t stop speaking or chewing, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) It’s very unusual, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

Pulsing or Thumping

Your probably not far of the mark if you at times think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running very close them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether from that big job interview or a difficult workout, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to 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 living with on a daily basis, it’s a practical decision to see a doctor. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are probably health concerns if it continues. But if you just had a hard workout, you should not hear it when your heart rate goes back to normal.

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