What Are Those Sounds in My Ear?

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

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping noises that appear to come out of nowhere? If you use hearing aids, it might mean that they need to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But it might also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds may be coming from inside your ears. But don’t stress. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common sounds you may hear inside your ears, and what they could mean is happening. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, though the majority are brief and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater or simply yawning, you could hear popping or crackling noises. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds are produced. The crackling sound occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, allowing fluid and air to circulate and equalizing the pressure in your ears. Sometimes this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation brought about by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum up the ears. In serious cases, when decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t help, a blockage may require surgical intervention. You should probably see a hearing professional if you have pressure or chronic pain.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

Once again, if you use hearing aids, you might hear these types of sounds if they aren’t sitting correctly in your ears, the volume is too high, or your batteries are running low. If you’re not using hearing aids, earwax might be the issue. Itchiness or even ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not surprising that it could make hearing difficult, but how does it create these sounds? The ringing or buzzing is caused when the wax is pressing against the eardrum and inhibiting its movement. The good news is, it’s easily solved: You can get the extra wax professionally removed. (Don’t attempt to do this yourself!) Excessive, prolonged buzzing or ringing 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 concern and is not itself a disease or disorder. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be related to anxiety and depression. Tinnitus can be alleviated by dealing with the root health concern; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the actually the one causing the sound to happen! Have you ever noticed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you can hear a low rumbling? There are little muscles in the ear that contract to help reduce the internal volume of certain natural actions such as your own voice or yawning or chewing, It’s the contraction of these muscles in response 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 close to your ears that without these muscles, the noise level would be damaging. (But chewing and talking not to mention yawning are not optional, it’s a good thing we have these little muscles.) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, even though it’s very unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can produce that rumble at will.

Pulsing or Thumping

Your most likely not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have a few of the bodies largest veins running very close them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from that important job interview or a tough workout, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to see a hearing specialist, they will be able to hear it too. If you’re experiencing 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 is not a disease, it’s a symptom; if it persists, it could indicate a health concern. But if you just had a hard workout, you should not hear it when your heart rate returns to normal.

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