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

Ever hear crackling, buzzing, or thumping sounds that seem to come out of nowhere? If you wear hearing aids, it can mean that they have to be adjusted or aren’t properly fitted. But it could also be possible that, if you don’t use hearing aids, the sounds may well be coming from inside your ears. You don’t have to panic. Our ears are a lot more complex than most of us may think. Here are some of the more common noises you might hear in your ears, and what they could mean is happening. Although most are harmless (and not long lasting), if any of these sounds are prolonged, painful, or otherwise impeding your quality of life, it’s a smart idea to talk to a hearing specialist.

Popping or Crackling

You might hear a crackling or popping if the pressure in your ear changes, perhaps from a change in altitude or from going underwater or even from a yawn. The eustachian tube, a tiny part of your ear, is where these sounds originate. The crackling sound happens when these mucus-lined passageways open up, permitting air and fluid to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. Occasionally this automatic process is disturbed by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. sometimes surgery is needed in serious cases when the blockage isn’t helped by antibiotics or decongestants. If you’re suffering from chronic ear pain or pressure, you probably should see a specialist.

Ringing or Buzzing is it Tinnitus?

Once more, 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. If you aren’t using hearing aids, earwax may be the issue. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense with earwax, and it’s not unexpected that it could make hearing challenging, but how could it produce these sounds? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to function, that’s what causes the buzzing or ringing. Thankfully, it’s easily solved: You can get the extra wax professionally removed. (Don’t try to do this at home!) Intense, prolonged ringing or buzzing is called tinnitus. Even buzzing from excessive earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disorder or disease; it’s a symptom that indicates something else is happening with your health. While it may be as straightforward as the buildup of wax, tinnitus is also linked to conditions including depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be alleviated by dealing with the root health issue; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This one’s not as common, and if you can hear it, you’re the one making the noises to occur! Do you know that rumble you can sometimes hear when you take a really big yawn? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract to help minimize 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 sounds that we hear as rumbling. Activities, like yawning and chewing, are so close to your ears that though they are not really loud, they can still harming your hearing. (But talking and chewing not to mention yawning are not optional, it’s lucky we have these little muscles.) It’s extremely rare, but certain people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they can create that rumble at will.

Pulsing or Thumping

Your probably not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. The ears have some of the bodies biggest veins running near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from a hard workout or a big job interview, your ears will pick up the sound of your pulse. Pulsatile tinnitus is the name for this, and when you go to see a hearing expert, unlike other forms of tinnitus, they will be able to hear it also. While it’s totally normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, if it’s something you’re dealing with on a regular basis, it’s a wise decision to see a doctor. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are likely health concerns if it persists. But if you just had a good workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate returns to normal.

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