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

Ever hear noises that seem to come from nowhere, like crackling, buzzing or thumping? Possibly, if you have hearing aids, they might need a fitting or require adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different noises you may be hearing inside of your ears could mean different things. Here are a few of the most common. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lowering your quality of life or are painful and chronic, even though most are temporary and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

You could hear a crackling or popping when the pressure in your ear changes, maybe from an altitude change or from swimming underwater or even from a yawn. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing air and fluid to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. It’s an automatic process, but in some circumstances, like when you have inflammation from allergies, a cold, or an ear infection, the passageway can actually get gummed up. sometimes surgery is needed in serious cases when the blockage isn’t improved by decongestants or antibiotics. If you’re suffering from lasting ear pain or pressure, you really should see a professional.

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 properly in your ears, the volume is too loud, or you have low batteries. If you’re not wearing hearing aids, earwax may be your problem. It makes sense that excessive wax may make it difficult to hear, and cause itchiness or possibly infections, but how can it make a sound? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can restrict the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. But don’t worry, the extra wax can be professionally removed. (Don’t attempt to do this at home!) Tinnitus is the name for lasting buzzing or ringing. Even buzzing from too much earwax is a type of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some sort of health issue and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be connected to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the fundamental health issue can help relieve tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This sound is caused by our own body and is much less commonplace. Have you ever observed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract in order to minimize the internal volume of some natural actions like your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. We’re not suggesting you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so close to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be damaging. (And since you can’t stop speaking or chewing, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, though it’s very rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble at will.

Thumping or Pulsing

If you at times feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat inside your ears, you’re probably right. 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 hard workout or an important job interview, your ears will detect the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and unlike other types of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to a hearing specialist, they will be able to hear it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a professional because that’s not normal. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are probably health issues if it continues. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when 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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