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

Do you ever hear buzzing, thumping, or crackling noises that seem to come out of nowhere? It’s possible, if you wear hearing aids, they might need a fitting or require adjustment. But if you don’t use hearing aids the noises are originating from inside your ear. 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 sounds you might hear inside your ears, and what they may indicate is going on. You should schedule a consultation with a hearing specialist if any of these are lessening your quality of life or are painful and chronic, even though most are short-term and harmless.

Popping or Crackling

You might hear a popping or crackling if the pressure in your ear changes, perhaps from an altitude change or from going underwater or even from yawning. These sounds are caused by a small part of your ear called the eustachian tube. When the mucus-lined passageway opens allowing fluid and air to flow, these crackling sounds are produced. Sometimes this automatic process is interrupted by inflammation caused by an ear infection or a cold or allergies which gum the ears up. Surgery is sometimes needed in serious situations when the blockage isn’t helped by decongestants or antibiotics. If you’re suffering from persistent ear pain or pressure, you really should consult a professional.

Buzzing or Ringing is it Tinnitus?

It might not be your ears at all if you have hearing aids, as mentioned before. 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 could make it difficult to hear, and cause itchiness or even infections, but how could it make a sound? If wax is pressing on your eardrum, it can restrict the eardrum’s ability to work properly, that’s what produces the buzzing or ringing. Thankfully, it’s easily solved: You can have the extra wax removed professionally. (This is not a DIY activity!) Tinnitus is the name for persistent ringing or buzzing. There are a number of types of tinnitus including when it’s caused by earwax. Tinnitus is a symptom of some kind of health issue and isn’t itself a disease or disorder. While it might be as straightforward as wax buildup, tinnitus is also connected to conditions including anxiety and depression. Diagnosing and treating the fundamental health issue can help reduce tinnitus; talk to a hearing specialist to learn more.


This sound is caused by our own body and is much less common. Have you ever observed how occasionally, if you have a really big yawn, you hear a low rumbling? There are tiny muscles in the ear that contract in order to reduce the internal volume of certain natural actions such as your own voice or chewing or yawning, It’s the tightening of these muscles in response to these natural noises that we hear as rumbling. Activities, such as yawning and chewing, are so near to your ears that though they are not really loud, they can still harming your ears. (And since never chewing or speaking isn’t a good solution, we’ll stay with the muscles, thanks!) These muscles can be controlled by certain people, although it’s very unusual, they’re called tensor tympani, and they’re able to create that rumble whenever they want.

Pulsing or Thumping

Your probably not far from the truth if you sometimes think you hear a heartbeat in your ears. Some of the body’s biggest veins run very close to your ears, and if you have an elevated heart rate, whether from that important job interview or a difficult workout, the sound of your pulse will be picked up by your ears. This is called pulsatile tinnitus, and unlike other forms of tinnitus, it’s one that not just you hear, if you go to see a hearing professional, they will be able to hear it as well. If you’re dealing with pulsatile tinnitus but you haven’t worked out recently, you need to consult a specialist because that’s not common. Like other kinds of tinnitus, pulsatile tinnitus isn’t a disease, it’s a symptom; there are probably health issues if it persists. Because your heart rate should return to normal and you should stop hearing it after your workout when your heart rate returns to normal.

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