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

Ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling noises that seem to come from nowhere? If you wear hearing aids, it can mean that they have to be adjusted or aren’t fitted properly. But if you don’t wear hearing aids the noises 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 might be hearing in your ears could mean different things. Here are a few of the most prevalent. You should talk with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are painful and chronic, though most are temporary and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

When the pressure in your ears changes, whether from altitude, going underwater or just yawning, you may hear popping or crackling noises. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. The crackling takes place when these mucus-lined passageways open up, enabling fluid and air to circulate and relieving the pressure in your ears. At times this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation brought about by an ear infection or a cold or allergies that gum the ears up. Surgery is sometimes needed in serious situations when the blockage isn’t improved by antibiotics or decongestants. You should probably consult a specialist if you have pressure or prolonged pain.

Could The Ringing or Buzzing be Tinnitus?

It may not be your ears at all if you are wearing hearing aids, as previously mentioned. If you’re not wearing hearing aids, earwax could be the issue. Itchiness or possibly ear infections make sense when it comes to earwax, and it’s not unexpected that it could make hearing challenging, but how does it cause these sounds? If wax is touching your eardrum, it can suppress the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what causes the ringing or buzzing. Thankfully, it’s easily fixed: You can get the extra wax removed professionally. (This is not a DIY procedure!) Excessive, persistent buzzing or ringing is known as tinnitus. Even buzzing from too much earwax counts as a kind of tinnitus. Tinnitus isn’t itself a disease or disorder; it’s a symptom that indicates something else is taking place with your health. Besides the wax buildup, tinnitus can also be associated with depression and anxiety. Tinnitus can be eased by treating the root health problem; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.

Rumbling

This sound is one we cause ourself and is much less common. Have you ever noticed how sometimes, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumbling? It’s the sound of tiny muscles inside your ears contracting in order to provide damage control on sounds you make: They turn down the volume of chewing, yawning, even your own voice! Activities, like yawning and chewing, are so near to your ears that though they are not very loud, they can still harming your ears. (But chewing and talking as well as yawning are not optional, it’s a good thing we have these little muscles.) It’s extremely unusual, but certain people can control one of these muscles, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to 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 near them, and if your heart rate’s up, whether from that important job interview or a difficult workout, the sound of your pulse will be detected by your ears. This is known as pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other kinds of tinnitus, it’s one that not only you hear, if you go to see a hearing professional, they will be able to hear it as well. While it’s absolutely normal to experience pulsatile tinnitus when your heart’s racing, if it’s something you’re living with on a regular basis, it’s a wise move to see a doctor. Like other sorts of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease; there are most likely health concerns if it continues. But if you just had a good workout, you should stop hearing it as soon as your heart rate goes back to normal.