Crackling in Ear – What is it? And How to Get Rid of It?

Are you experiencing a crackling noise or sound in your ear?

Well, if you are, do not panic, it is a common abnormality that many people experience.

It is often a sign of an abnormality occurring in the structure of your ear.

Some cases of ear crackling go away easily, others require more attention [1]https://www.ata.org/research-toward-cure/clinical-trials.

Crackling sounds in the ear can be annoying, and sometimes, even lead to distress.

The problem is the sound can make you fixated on what is causing the sensation, and distract you from other activities.

In some cases, crackling sounds result in anxiety, poor performance, and lack of sleep.

The medical term for this condition is tinnitus [2]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2784987.

What are causes of crackling?

Woman with crackling in ear

Ear wax

Ear wax is the leading cause of many conditions affecting your ears, including crackling sounds.

When ear wax becomes dry, it covers the eardrum [3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10733177.

And because the eardrum is a vital component in the conduction of sound, a hard substance covering the organ can lead to crackling-like vibration.

Dysfunction of Eustachian tubes

Another common cause of ear crackling is an abnormality in the Eustachian tubes.

This small tube connects the ear between the back of the nose and the upper part of the throats.

Its role is to circulate air within the middle ear, helping you to maintain a balance between internal and external pressure.

This tube is also the reason why you might notice and experience changes in the ear due to altitude changes.

When there is a dysfunction in the normal functioning of the tube, fluid accumulates inside.

The result is pressure inside becoming higher than normal and creating a crackling-like sound.

Drugs and medications

No matter whether your drugs and medications were prescribed or over the counter, they can cause side effects.

This is one of the reasons why many people opt for natural remedies.

But that aside, drugs can damage the auditory nerve, one that is responsible for allowing us to hear.

When we use drugs incorrectly, we experience troubles, one of which is crackling sounds in your ear.

Some drugs that cause this are high doses of ibuprofen, antibiotic medications, and diuretic drugs.

Temporomandibular joint syndrome disorder

Commonly known as the TMJ disorder, it is characterized by excruciating pain or tenderness in your jaw.

Being that we use the jaw muscles on a daily basis to chew food, breathe, and speak, we put strain on the joint called temporomandibular joint.

The exact cause of developing this syndrome is unknown, and hard to determine at times.

However, some of the risk factors associated with it are genetics, jaw injury, and arthritis.

Loss of sensory hair cells

There are various structures of our inner ear.

And they are very complex.

The inner ear allows us to hear the world around us, but also maintain our balance.

The actions are handled by the cochlea and the vestibule structures.

In the cochlea, there are sensory hair cells that help to conduct sound and send a signal to the brain [4]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hair_cell.

When these cells are destroyed or damaged, you might experience hearing loss.

Foreign body in the ear

Ever since we were little, we were taught not to put foreign objects into our ear.

There is a reason for that. Even cotton buds can sometimes cause damage to ears.

Any object that enters the middle ear has the potential to produce a crackling sound.

Even an insect accidentally trapped inside will do it.

Ear infections

We know there is a wide palette of bacterial and viral infections that can cause damage to our ear [5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8728460.

These ear infections can infect our internal structures, and the result is an abnormality in hearing and sensation of hearing crackling sound in ear.

How to get rid of crackling sounds?

Cleaning Earwax

The first way to get rid of crackling sounds utilizes the ear’s most important organ, and that is the ear wax [6]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286320.

Cleaning ear wax can help you hear better, and protect you against strange sounds.

You should not remove ear wax with cotton swabs, as they tend to push the wax further inside the ear.

There are a number of ways to clean ear wax.

For starters, you can use olive oil.

Warm the oil, use a dropper, and put two to three drops into the clogged ear.

Let it settle for 10 minutes, and once the ear wax has softened, use a soft cloth to gently remove the oil.

Another solution for cleaning ear wax is hydrogen peroxide.

It is a popular remedy that has found usage in the past several years.

Same as with olive oil, drop few drops of hydrogen peroxide in your ear, and after 10 minutes, tilt your head to drain the liquid.

Flushing your ears with warm water will also help you to open up a clogged ear.

Valsalva maneuver

This is the maneuver we all do when we are flying, or hiking [7]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7631342.

The goal is to keep your mouth closed, while you pinch your nostrils.

Then take a deep breath through your mouth, and try to blow the ear through the nose again.

You will hear a slight popping sound, which is a sign your Eustachian tubes are open again.

Be careful not to use excessive force as it can cause damage to the eardrum.

Steam

One of the more common remedies for those that suffer from sinus congestion, steam can help you relieve clogged ears.

Fill a bowl with steaming water, put our head over it, and then cover with a towel.

You can also add some essential oils into the water for more potent solution.

Breathe under the towel for a minute or two.

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