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

Ever hear noises that appear to come out of nowhere, such as buzzing, thumping, or crackling? Possibly, if you wear hearing aids, they need a fitting or require adjustment. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the sounds are originating from inside your ear. You don’t have to panic. Even though we primarily think of our ears with respect to what we see on the outside, there’s much more than what you see. Different sounds you might be hearing in your ears could indicate different things. Here are a few of the most prevalent. Even though most are harmless (and temporary), if any are lasting, irritating, or otherwise impeding your quality of life, it’s a smart idea to get in touch with a hearing professional.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear popping or crackling sounds. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. The crackling sound takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, letting fluid and air to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. Occasionally this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum the ears up. Surgery is sometimes needed in serious situations when the blockage isn’t improved by antibiotics or decongestants. You probably should consult a specialist if you feel pressure or lasting pain.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

Once again, if you have hearing aids, you might hear these kinds of sounds if they aren’t sitting properly in your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax may be the issue. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unusual that it could make hearing difficult, but how does it cause these sounds? The ringing or buzzing is caused when the wax is pressing on the eardrum and inhibiting its movement. But don’t worry, the extra wax can be professionally removed. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is called tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax is a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health problem and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. While it could be as simple as wax buildup, tinnitus is also related to conditions such as anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be eased by treating the root health concern; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This sound is caused by our own body and is a lot less commonplace. Have you ever observed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract in order to reduce the internal volume of some natural actions like your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in reaction to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. We’re not suggesting you chew too loudly, it’s just that those noises are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be harmful. (But chewing and talking as well as yawning are not something we can stop doing, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) It’s extremely unusual, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you at times feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re most likely right. Some of the body’s largest veins are very close to your ears, and if your heart rate’s high, whether from a tough workout or an important job interview, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other kinds of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to see a hearing expert, he or she will be able to hear it as well. While it’s totally 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 your physician. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease; there are most likely health concerns if it continues. Because your heart rate should come back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate goes back 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.