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

Do you ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling sounds that seem to come out of nowhere? It’s possible, if you have hearing aids, they need a fitting or need adjustment. But if you don’t have hearing aids the noises are originating from inside your ear. You don’t have to panic. Even though we primarily think of our ears in terms of what we see on the outside, there’s a lot more than what you see. Here are some of the more common noises you might hear in your ears, and what they could mean is going on. Even though the majority are harmless (and not long lasting), if any are lasting, painful, or otherwise interfering with your quality of life, it’s a good idea to consult a hearing expert.

Crackling or Popping

When there’s a pressure change in your ears, whether from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear crackling or popping noises. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. When the mucus-lined passageway opens enabling air and fluid 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 that gum up the ears. sometimes surgery is needed in severe situations when the blockage isn’t improved by decongestants or antibiotics. If you’re suffering from lasting ear pain or pressure, you should probably consult a specialist.

Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?

Again, if you have hearing aids, you could hear these types of sounds if they aren’t fitting correctly in your ears, the volume is too loud, or you have low batteries. If you’re not wearing hearing aids, earwax could be the issue. It makes sense that excessive wax could make it tough to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how can it make a sound? The ringing or buzzing is produced when the wax is pressing on the eardrum and inhibiting its motion. But don’t worry, the excess wax can be removed professionally. (This is not a DIY task!) Excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is known as tinnitus. There are several forms of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease; it’s a symptom that indicates something else is taking place with your health. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be connected to depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be relieved by treating the underlying health problem; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s much less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the one causing the noises to occur! Have you ever noticed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help minimize the internal volume of certain natural actions like your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the contraction 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 sounds are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be damaging. (But chewing and talking as well as yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) It’s very unusual, but some people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to produce that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

Your most likely not far of the mark if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have a few of the bodies biggest veins running very close them, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether it’s from a tough workout or an important job interview, the sound of your pulse will be detected by your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and when you consult a hearing expert, unlike other types of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it also. While it’s absolutely 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 move to see a doctor. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom not a disease; there are most likely health problems if it persists. But if you just had a hard workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as 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.
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