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Ear Noises Explained

Ear Noises Explained

Do you ever hear funny noises inside your ear? Maybe a crackling noise, or a sudden popping. Sometimes these ear noises can be pleasant, like when your ears finally “pop” in an airplane, and sometimes they can be downright annoying. We are here to shed some light on those mysterious ear noises!

Wax Worries

Many people in America suffer the annoyance of too much earwax. If you have this problem, you know that a buildup of earwax can cause ear aches, itchiness, and decreased hearing. In some cases, too much earwax can even cause odd noises in your ear, like a ringing or buzzing noise. This is especially true if the wax if touching your eardrum, which creates pressure and changes how the eardrum vibrates. This is a form of tinnitus, and can be treated by a doctor who can remove the excess wax.

Tube Troubles

The Eustachian tube is a small passageway from your inner ear to the back of your nose, and plays an important part in the hearing process. Every time you swallow, yawn, or blow your nose, the Eustachian tube opens and allows air to pass from the middle of your ear to the back of your nose. This process equalizes the pressure in our ears, and prevents the eardrum from bulging in or out too much. If this process isn’t working properly, you are experiencing Eustachian Tube Dysfunction—something many people will experience in their lifetime. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction can be caused by large adenoids, allergies, or a cold.

This dysfunction can cause crackling or popping noises in our ears. The tube is lined with moist mucosa, and inflamed Eustachian tubes often get sticky, which causes the crackling and popping noises when the tubes are moving around. If the inflammation is serious, it can be easily treated with steroid nasal sprays.

Muscle Madness

Did you know you have several tiny muscles in your ears? One of the muscles is called the tensor tympani muscle, and serves many functions. This muscle reacts to loud, sudden sounds, and reduce the volume of these sounds to protect your inner ear from noise damage. The tensor tympani also reduces the sound of your own voice and sounds caused by chewing food, so these nearby noises don’t cause damage. A small amount of the population can actually control this muscle at will, and create a low rumbling sound in their ear—similar to the sound that is sometimes produced when you yawn deeply—by tensing the tensor tympani muscle. See if you can do it!

Thumping Away

If you’ve ever experienced a thumping sound inside your ears, you’re not alone. This thumping noise is called pulsatile tinnitus, and you may notice that the pulse matches your heart beat. There are several different causes for this thumping ear noise. Change in blood flow is the most common cause; blood flowing more quickly or more turbulently than normal can cause thumping noises. Exercise, pregnancy, and overactive thyroids can all causes these blood flow changes. Most of the time this thumping noise is normal and does not require treatment, but if it is often and bothersome, you should report it to your doctor.

Our ears are always working, making tiny movements even when we can’t feel them. Most ear noises are harmless and don’t indicate any health issues. However, if any of these ear noises lead to pain or are distracting you from normal life, be sure to speak with a doctor about treatment!

Sources: Fauquier ENTAmerican Academy of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck SurgeryWikipediaCenter for Hearing Loss HelpMDHealth

By: Elena McPhillips

61 responses to “Ear Noises Explained

  1. Hi there, my ear has become really painful and I have not been on a aeroplane it feels like something keeps snapping inside my ear and my parents don’t care when I tell them so I came to you for help

  2. Hello I’m 14 and I had a sinus infection and a cold about a week ago and I got nasal spray and once it all cleared up my ears started ringing and making werid clicking noises when I yawn or something it is really bother some and they don’t really hurt maybe rarely a little ache I really need some help im very worried and it bothers me a lot thank you

    1. Hello! It sounds like you have an excess wax buildup. There are over-the-counter drugs or kits that can be used to soften up your ear wax and then flushed out with an ear spray. When you get a bad cold your ear tends to clog up with excess wax. So it is a good idea to make sure to clean out your ear with a kit so you dont have to worry about it getting really bad in the long run. Excessive wax buildup can cause: Ear ache, Ear infection, ringing in the ear, hearing loss, loss of balance, discomfort and more.

  3. I have a low rumbling, crackling, or kinda sounds like severely muted fireworks sound in my ear. It’s hard to describe I do not have a cold but I do feel stuffy.. no pain. I am unfortunately a smoker. not a lot but sometimes more than I should outside of none at all. Any suggestions.

  4. My ear is painful …when i shake my heard i feel like there is something inside but my doctor says my ear is clean after checking and he says nothing is inside just an infection..he then gave me anti biotics…i just want to know that is it possible that there could be something that went inside deeper that the doctor cant see if he he puts that thing with the light..and is it posdible that somthing can go deeper and surpas my ear drum..?

      1. This may be cause by tooth ace. I have suffered over about a week or two with jaw line pain swelling off the ears went to check it out and find out its actually was my misdom tooth and after I went for a check up and got my wisdom tooth seen to I feel much better so I am just suggesting visit the Denis perhaps? Please don’t take it like I’m insulting you thank you lol hope i can give you a good answer lol

  5. Hi, My name is Laura,i am 57. I have allergies. I have been suffering with bad Basel drip for at least 4years now. I need Basel spray to sleep,or I can’t breathe.my nose runs when I eat get over heated.now I suffer with crackling in my right ear.it sounds like static cling,n o pain. it is very frustrating and distracting to hear this noise in my ear all the time.what should I do? I have enough I suffer with now. I have Lupus, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. So I really didn’t need this weird sound in my ear now to make me feel even worse.please help!thank you laura

    1. Hello Laura. Sorry to hear that you are having ear discomfort. It doesn’t sound like hearing aids are the right solution for you. You should consult your ENT doctor about the strange sound in your ear. It sounds like it might be tinnitus.

  6. Can someone help me. I occasionally have loud beeps in both my ears what lasts no longer than 30 seconds at most! But currently getting over the flu and both my ears are rumbling it’s hard to sleep because it’s all I can hear should I be worried?

    1. Hi Lucy, Have you consulted your ENT doctor or Audiologist? You should give them a call if this continues on and get a quick check-up.

  7. My right ear makes a popping noise multiple times when I hear small scratching noises like when someone is coloring for example! What is happening? It has been like this since I was a child.

  8. I am 70 yrs old and have a constant low volume noise in my ears that sounds like crickets. I am used to it, but am curious if it is something I should be concerned.

    1. I’ve had Tinnitus for a few years and I hear a high pitched ringing in my ears, constantly. It sounds like you have a form of Tinnitus to me, if so its nothing to worry about. It can be annoying but their are no risks to your health, if it is Tinnitus its either the hairs in your ears that are damaged or your brain is just constantly creating that sound (my case), either way you have nothing to worry about besides it being annoying!

  9. I am 22 years old and have a constant low volume noise in my ears that sounds like crickets, please i need help thank you.

    1. Hi Terry, Have you gone to see an ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat) doctor? They will be able to take a look at your ear and see what’s going on. Best, Audicus

    1. Hi there, Have you spoken to your ENT doctor about this? If it is something that is bothering you, this would be our suggestion.

  10. I have somewhat of a thumping sound in my right ear. I would describe it as a fluttering that I can hear. Doesn’t seem to go along with a heartbeat. sometimes last a few fast tapps and other times just one tap. I have been taking sudafed in case my Eustachian tube is clogged. I have had a cough on and off for several days, just irritating cough, like an allergy cough that is getting better. No pain associated with it, just very distracting. What could be causing this? Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Molly, We cannot say what is causing this, it does sound abnormal though. If this continues to bother you, we would recommend going to an ENT doctor to check it checked out.

  11. Hello, I have both a thumping noise and a buzz in my ears. I have it all day long, it increases in the evenings and is sometimes present at night for several hours and sometimes, all night long. I thought that it was a neighbour playing bass music causing both the noise and the buzz because it was much louder in the evenings. The Police told me that I should go and have this checked out by a doctor.

  12. I have found that if you take magnesium pills the thumping will ease off and not bother you. I have no clue as to why but it worked for me.

  13. Hi I’m 16, and I have a lot more earwax than most people, and sometimes I hear this sound of something in my ear(maybe dry earwax?). It happened again recently, so I tried getting it out, and little pieces came out, and it did get a little better, but I still hear it. When I press my outer ear, lean back(so the gravity changes), and let go, I hear it moving again. And I also feel a lot more “ear mucus(?? I don’t really know what to call it)”when I press my ear shut.

  14. My husband has suffered from tinnitus for 10 years as a result of chemotherapy treatment, he has learned to live with it. For the past few weeks he has found if he rubs a wee patch behind his left ear if causes a ringing noise in his ear which lasts about a minute or less. Do you think this is connected to his tinnitus? Thanks.

  15. For anyone who is here about a ringing in their ears… it’s called Tinnitus. There are no health risks associated with it but it can be very annoying. It’s caused be either the hairs in your ears being damaged or the wiring of your brain is slightly tweaked and it constantly emits the sound you hear, which is what happened to me after blasting music in my headphones. Go to your doctor and take a hearing test to see if its your ear hairs or your brain. Many studies have been done on treatments for Tinnitus but you will have to do your research and find what works for you. Avoid salt and loud noises, it does get better with time. Hang in there!

    1. Jacob, it sound like some of the audiolyphys (ear stones) in your ear may have become dislodged. There’s a technique known as the employ manuever that may help

  16. sir when i pressured or move my jaw i hear crackling sound crackling sound. and when i blow my nose by closing hole i feel blocked

  17. Can methotrexate cause pulsatile tinnitus, like a reverberation of my ear drum? I’ve had ringing in my ear for years which I’m used to but this heartbeat sound started at the same time as taking new meds.

  18. Hello, my ears make loud cracking/popping noises every time I swallow. When I lay down, I find the pressure in my ears go up. This happened after I smoked for the first time. Does anyone know if this has to do with a problem with my eastuchian tubes? I read that it doesnit really show on traditional hearing tests. (I went to the ENT, he said my hearing is perfect after perfornming two tests and basically dismissed me)

  19. I keep hearing this thumping sound in my ear lately. I think there is a bug in my ear or something but i’m not sure if that is causing it. Does anyone have any answers?

  20. When i Here some clicking sounds especially when typing on my phone. My left ear beats, as if its connected to the keypad..

  21. I’m 24 years old and my right ear feels like it’s been clogged. I can somewhat hear for a second or two when I burp or keep on playing with it to be able to hear. It does hurt and the pain goes up to my head. When I breath i feel the air go from my nose to my ear. I can’t help but put a q tip in there cause it does itch and when I do I get like dry was out. This has been going on for 3 months and all doctors tell me different things. I did try ear drops and that made it worse. Now they prescribed me 2 types of pills and I really don’t think it’s going to work.

  22. Hi, I’m 16 and I keep hearing this thumping sound in my left ear. It mostly happens when I’m moving around. It doesn’t match my heart beat though, they are just random thumps. Does anyone know what this could be?

  23. My right ear only occasionally creates a crackling sound. Like a fire crackling sound or static sound like from a poorly tuned dial radio. Happens when loud noises are present. Like a noisy room with lots of people. The static noise I hear will follow the precise syllables of the person I’m talking with. It drowns out their words so all I hear is static noise mimicking their speech pattern. Been to several Ent’s who cant find a thing. Please help.

  24. I’ve had ringing in my ears for 55 yrs when an explosion went off in science class. But lately I have what sounds like when a faucet is turned on, the sound of the faucet, not water trickling, just a faucet sound.. and sometimes way in the background it sounds like people talking, but the faucet sound is loud! Savannah Taylor

  25. I’ve had tinnitus for a very long time. Several days ago as soon as I get up I get a sound like shaking sand in a box as well as very strong ringing. I have degenerative arthritis in my neck. Can the neck issues be causing that new sound in the head /ears?

  26. When I hear normal everyday sounds like a door close, drop a spoon on the countertop, various things that have never bothered me in the past I hear that “low rumbling” sound in my right ear. It’s almost like the sound/feeling every person has when you hear a gunshot or a sudden short scream and the eardrum or some other internal part of the ear vibrates for just a split second. This doesn’t occur for all sounds, just sudden nearby sounds. I have no physical pain in my ear. Maybe a sensitivity of some sort? Hopefully not Hyperacusis. Any advice would be most appreciated.

  27. Hi, Roughly 8 years ago i was listening to music when I thought one of my earphones had broken and was making a static broken speaker sound. I bought a new pair and the same thing happened. I then realized it was my ear that was the problem. Whenever I hear certain sounds or sounds over a certain decibel I hear a crackling/static sound in my ear that is extremely hard to live with. I cannot listening to music in the car, through speakers or on a night out and it can even start when people are talking or whispering in my ear. It calms down after a while and constantly feels like a full sensation in my left ear. I have been to the ENT a number of times about this and after good hearing test results and no physical damage on assessment, the first doctor told me it was glue ear and prescribed nasal steroids. The second doctor recently diagnosed me with Tinnitus and told me it may never go away. However it only starts when it is triggered by an external noise source. It can sometimes be overwhelming and can lead to emotional distress on some occasions as it has been ongoing for over eight years. Apart from the feeling of fullness I have no physical pain in my ear. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.

  28. Days ago, an ant went inside my ear and I had the doctor to remove it. It was removed. Then after that, maybe 3-6 days later, I heard the sound of the noise the ant made when it was in my ear. I told my aunt who was the only one with me that time, she put drops of vinegar in my right ear. My parents finally came and told me maybe its because of the trauma from the events that happened. I wasn’t very bothered when I first had it tho. Then after that, the inside of my ear started hurting. Not very painful, just a bit. I started to get a phobia of tying my hair up because I could feel my ears exposed. The inside of my ear also itches sometimes, and its always nighttime whenever I lay down. I think its because of the earwax? The doctor did tell me to get some medicine for the earwax. Should I just get an earwax treatment?

  29. Two years back I started to have congestion and it will cause blocked ears are I use congestion medication and my ears will open. Lately my ears have been producing too much wax and I went to the doctor and he told me I congestion and my ears are blocked. What worries me is when I yawn it sounds like thunder and the volume of the TV becomes 5 times louder

  30. I have this strange whooshing sound in my ear, sometimes just normally but then always if I turn my head to the side. This is in my right ear and is starting to annoy me because it is always there and I’m worried that it could be some water from ages ago and will take days to come out, and I could get swimmers ear or worse. Would you please be able to tell me what this strange sound is, and shed some light on to the situation. Many thanks. Sam

  31. Hi, I had cold before getting on the flight. While flight was landing I suffered very much pain in my ears. After I get off the aeroplane pain stopped. But now almost a week passed I hear noise like open book papers in the air. I went to see a doctor he told me that I have barotroma and given some meds and one nassel spray. But still no effect. Is something damaged in my ear ??

  32. Hi, there. I’m 22 years old, and for quite some time now, years I think, I’ve experienced this awful sound in my ear. It sounds a bit like whooshing, rushing air inside of a pipe that the cap opens and closes on. I’m a singer/song writer, and I noticed that when I’m listening to music, working or singing with music, my left ear only starts making this sound, like this ‘pipe’ is opening and when the room goes quiet it closes again. It doesn’t happen all the time, and it does seem to be something that happens more with prolonged exposure to medium to high volume sounds, even sometimes my own talking can trigger it. Last I spoke with my doctor about it, she said she didn’t see anything abnormal but she prescribed me some nasal spray. Should I take nasal spray again? Also, tonight after my shower I tried rinsing my ear with hydrogen peroxide and now a few hours later, there is a sharp, pulsating kind of pain, not in rhythm with my pulse. Any advice would be great!

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