The human ear can be weird. It lets us hear. However, sometimes it acts funny. Because of diseases, we encounter muffled hearing, hissing, buzzing, and even – crackling sounds in the ear.
You might find it similar to the sound cereal make when you pour milk over it. This popping sensation is annoying and uncomfortable.
So, what causes this crackling sound? Today we’ll learn about the causes it happens, how it’s treated, and when to see a doctor.
Let’s dive in.
The middle ear is joined to the back of your nose and upper throat by a tiny tube called the eustachian tube. There’s a tube in each ear.
Eustachian tubes serve a variety of purposes, such as –
- Maintain the pressure balance between the middle ear and the environment
- Drain excess middle ear fluids
- Prevent middle ear infections
Most of the time, your tubes are shut. They occasionally pop when you swallow, yawn, or chew. You might feel them pop while you’re on a plane as well.
Your eustachian tubes become dysfunctional when they don’t open or close appropriately. Your ear might start to crackle or pop as a result of this.
Other signs of this problem can be –
- Ear pain
- Muffled hearing
- Hearing Loss
The dysfunction of the eustachian tube has many reasons. They can consist of –
- An airborne irritant, such as cigarette smoke or pollution
- An infection, such as the common cold or sinusitis
- An airborne irritant, such as cigarette smoke or pollution
- Nasal polyps
- Nasal growths
Each of these potential causes can impair the eustachian tubes’ ability to function by inflaming them or physically obstructing them.
Acute otitis media is a type of middle ear infection. Children are more likely to experience it than adults.
This is also caused by the malfunction of the eustachian tube. Infected fluid can build up in the middle ear when the ear is constrained or clogged.
Eustachian tubes that are obstructed or narrowed can cause ear popping in people with acute otitis media. Other typical adult signs include–
- Ear pain
- Fluid drainage
- Hearing difficulty
Children can also show additional signs like–
- Sleeping trouble
- Low appetite
Your ear canal is lubricated and protected from infections by earwax. The part of your outer ear canal nearest to your ear’s entrance is where the glands that produce it are located.
Normally, earwax leaves your ear on its own. But occasionally, it can become stuck and obstruct your ear canal. This may occur if you use an object like a cotton swab to clean the earwax deeper inside your ear.
A buildup may also result from your ears producing more earwax than necessary.
In addition to making popping or cracking noises in your ear, earwax buildup can also cause the following symptoms–
- Partial hearing loss
- Discomfort in the ear
- Feeling like the ear is full
- Ear itching
Your jawbone is connected to your skull by your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). One is directly in front of your ears and is on both sides of your head.
The joint can slide in addition to acting as a hinge. There is a disc of cartilage that aids in maintaining the smooth motion of the joint.
TMJ issues may result from joint damage or injury as well as cartilage erosion.
Whenever you open your mouth or chew, you’ll hear or feel popping or clicking extremely close to your ear if you have a TMJ condition.
The following are some signs of a TMJ disorder–
- Ear and jaw pain
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Limited jaw movement
- Jaw locking
Middle ear myoclonus is a rare form of tinnitus. It occurs as a result of the tympani muscles in your ear contracting.
These tympani muscles aid in the transmission of vibrations from the eardrum to the inner ear.
The precise cause of MEM is not yet known. But, it might be related to congenital conditions, acoustic injuries, and other tremors or spasms, like hemifacial spasms.
The muscles can spasm and make a popping sound. You might hear a clicking sound when the tensor tympani muscle spasms.
These sounds vary from person to person in terms of loudness or pitch. These sounds’ other properties can likewise change.
If you experience any of the following, be sure to visit a doctor for the crackling in your ears–
- Crackling that interferes with daily activities or makes it difficult for you to hear
- Severe, chronic, or recurring symptoms
- Indications of an ear infection that persists for more than a day
- Bloody ear discharge
Your doctor will gather information about your medical history and perform a physical examination to identify your illness. This will probably involve looking at your jaw, neck, and ears.
More specialized examinations may be required in specific circumstances. Your doctor may prescribe various kinds of testing, including–
- A hearing test
- Testing the eardrum movements
- CT or MRI test
Your treatment will depend on what caused it. The following are a few examples of therapies your doctor might suggest–
- Ear infection treatment using antibiotics
- Removal of earwax by a professional
- The insertion of ear tubes into your eardrums to aid in fluid drainage and to assist equalize pressure in your middle ear
- Using a tiny balloon catheter to help expand the eustachian tubes – it’s known as balloon dilatation
- Prescription drugs such to treat the pain brought on by TMJ conditions
- Surgery for TMJ is used when less invasive treatments are ineffective in treating symptoms
Crackling in the ear only happens occasionally and heals without problems – if it’s not anything serious.
However, if it’s serious, it’ll be followed by other symptoms. You should visit the doctor if it starts to become unbearable. Proper treatment and medications help treat your problem and stop the popping in your ear for good.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Dr Ronald Chin is an Australian trained Otolaryngologist Head and Neck Surgeon.
After graduating as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, Dr Chin undertook further specialised training in Head and Neck Cancer at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
He has published many research papers and is an active teacher and scholar.
As part of his subspecialty training, Dr Chin has training in Laser, Da Vinci Robotic, Flex Robotic and complex surgical techniques.
In addition to specialised Head and Neck Cancer, Dr Chin also enjoys general adult and paediatric ENT Surgery and practices sinus, snoring/sleep and general paediatric ENT Surgical procedures.
Dr Ronald Chin works as a general Otolaryngologist, offering a wide range of surgical and non-surgical treatments including ear surgery, nose surgery and throat surgery. He provides treatment for chronic conditions such as tonsillitis, sinus problems and problems with hearing.
He is also involved in the diagnosis and treatment of many conditions such as facial paralysis, head and neck cancer and sleep apnea. As well as performing surgery on children, he also provides specialist care for adults, including the treatment of throat disorders, voice loss and ear problems.
Dr Chin has also served as a Conjoint Associate Professor at the University of Sydney, a Conjoint Associate Professor at Western Sydney University and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Technology Sydney.