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? It’s possible, if you have hearing aids, they need to be fitted or need adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids the sounds are coming from inside your ear. But don’t freak out. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Different noises you may be hearing in your ears could indicate different things. Here are a few of the most common. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are irritating and chronic, even though the majority are temporary and harmless.

Crackling or Popping

You could hear a crackling or popping if the pressure in your ear changes, possibly from an altitude change or from swimming underwater or even from a yawn. The eustachian tube, a very small part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. The crackling occurs when these mucus-lined passageways open up, enabling air and fluid to circulate and equalizing the pressure in your ears. At times this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation triggered by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum the ears up. In extreme cases, when decongestant sprays or antibiotics don’t help, a blockage could call for surgical treatment. If you’re suffering from chronic ear pain or pressure, you really should consult a professional.

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 high, or your batteries are running low. But if you’re not wearing hearing aids and you’re hearing this type of sound, it could be because of too much earwax. It makes sense that excessive wax may make it hard to hear, and cause itchiness or possibly infections, but how can it make a sound? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what produces the ringing or buzzing. The good news is, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (This is not a DIY task!) Tinnitus is the term for persistent ringing or buzzing. Even noise from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health concern and isn’t itself a disorder or disease. Besides the buildup of wax, tinnitus can also be linked to anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and dealing with the underlying health problem can help relieve tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s less prevalent, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the sound to occur! Have you ever observed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumble? There are little muscles in the ear that contract in order to lessen the internal volume of certain natural actions such as 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 saying you chew too noisily, it’s just that those noises are so near to your ears that without these muscles, the volume level would be harmful. (And since never chewing or speaking isn’t a good solution, we’ll stick with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, though it’s quite rare, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble at will.

Pulsing or Thumping

If you sometimes feel like you’re hearing your heartbeat in your ears, you’re most likely right. The ears have some of the bodies largest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether it’s from a tough workout or a big job interview, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. Pulsatile tinnitus is the term for this, and when you consult a hearing professional, unlike other kinds of tinnitus, they will be capable of hearing it too. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but your pulse is not racing, you need to see a specialist because that’s not normal. Like other forms of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; if it persists, it may suggest a health issue. Because your heart rate should go back to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate returns to normal.

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