Back | Blog Home
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

14 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

  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..?

  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *