Believe it or not, ears are most ignored by everyone and still, they continue to do their job seamlessly until you hear random ringing, buzzing or crackling in ear. Any such random sound can instantly make a person’s mind go from a relaxed state to a simply crazy or uneasy state.
If you too are going through the same, it might not be the first time you are experiencing crackling in ear. Though it can make you either curious or worried to find more about crackling in ear and that may raise a few questions regarding the same.
Well, to end your worries and to help you find the cause as well as a remedy for crackling in your ear; in this article, we will discuss everything related to this weird noise or any similar problems. Stick with me till the end to get answers to all your doubts.
What Is Crackling In Ear?
It’s not just you but every second person you meet might have experienced such discomfort after travelling from planes or while swimming or even when sitting peacefully at home and working on your laptop.
Most people like to describe this sound by comparing it with the sound that a bowl of rice krispies make when some milk is just poured in it. But enough about this sound, let us see what it is and why it exists in the first place.
What Are The Causes Of Crackling In Ear?
Causes of crackling in ear can be the simplest one as well as more critical one and can be a reason to be worried. But don’t worry I am not gonna scare you unnecessarily. Let us see what are the possible causes of this problem.
For most people:
This crackling sound can exist because of a simple change in pressure in your middle ear region and in response to this pressure change sometimes your ears may produce such sounds causing slight discomfort.
This type of crackling in ear is common and its cause can be due to a change in pressure encountered during swimming or while doing other kinds of activities like travelling by flight. However, that’s not all. There can be other causes too, some serious or some common.
Other causes of crackling in ear:
Eustachian tube dysfunction
Ears are a little complex and the eustachian tube is one of the important parts of the ear. It connects the middle ear to the throat. The function of this tube which is present in each ear is to prevent the building of air pressure and fluid in the ear and to maintain correct ear pressure.
During normal operation, the eustachian tube opens when a person is swallowing or yawning, otherwise it remains closed. But in case the tubes are blocked or out of sync due to any reason, it can cause eustachian tube dysfunction which in turn leads to crackling in ear.
Eustachian tube dysfunction is quite a common cause of this crackling sound and something you should not be worried about. The eustachian tube usually gets free after a while by itself and does not need any medical attention.
Excess Earwax Buildup
We all are familiar with earwax. It’s present in our ears to some extent all the time. Its primary function is to protect the ear canal from infection and lubricate the same. Earwax is generated naturally by the secretion of some fluid by glands present inside the ear.
Similar to its secretion, the removal of earwax from the ears is a natural process. But if the earwax is generated more than it should have or if you have put something in your ear that forces earwax deep into the ear, the canal gets blocked by earwax and that leads to the crackling in ear.
Temporomandibular disorder (TMD)
The temporomandibular disorder is more about the jaw than the ears but it affects your ears in an indirect way. Our jaw is attached to the skull using two hinges, each present on both sides of your head just in front of your ears.
These hinges are called temporomandibular joints aka TMJ and their function is to connect the jaw to the skull and allow free and smooth movement of jaws while chewing. If this joint has been subjected to any kind of injury, it can lose its ability of free movement which in turn affects the ears.
In such cases, one may experience pain while chewing or swallowing and it also causes that crackling sound near the ear which can be very disturbing at times considering the pain it comes with.
Otitis Media Infection
Otitis media, mostly known as acute otitis media (AOM) is a serious type of infection that can be seen at the middle ear region. It is a painful infection and more common in infants than in adults.
We have already discussed eustachian tube dysfunction, the same dysfunction can further help in the formation of infection in the middle ear known as otitis media infection. As narrowing of the eustachian tube is involved in this infection, it leads to the crackling in the ear.
As you can see, the reasons for crackling in the ear can be many and the cause can be as simple as an underwater swimming session or even as complex as internal infections. But let us see how to identify what’s normal and what’s not.
Is Crackling In Ear Normal?
This crackling sound in the ear for most people is normal and not something to worry about. 4% of people experience this discomfort and most of the time it is due to normal and natural reasons. Though we cannot deny the risks of other serious infections completely.
In most cases, the crackling in ear lasts for somewhere around a few hours to a few days or even for a week. It usually gets better over time and you may get relief without requiring any medical attention most of the time.
When Do I Need To See A Doctor?
Though for most people crackling in ear is normal, ignoring the obvious signs can turn into a risky decision in the long term. Let us see what are the signs or symptoms that you should be looking for before consulting a doctor.
Consult a doctor if:
- If you are experiencing crackling in your ear repeatedly, on and off.
- If the problem is lasting longer than it should have. For eg. over a week.
- If the crackling in ear is accompanied by discharge of other fluid or blood.
- If you are facing other problems like headache, constant itching in the ear or difficulty in hearing.
- If the earwax coming out of the ear has blood or puss with it while you are experiencing crackling in ear.
The ear has a complex structure and it is a very critical and delicate organ. Any dysfunction within your ear can affect you directly and as a result, you may not be able to continue doing your daily activities normally.
Consult a doctor if you spot any of the above mentioned signs. This issue lasting for more than a week or for a month is the most easy to spot and obvious sign of some kind of infection or dysfunction in ear.
What Are The Home Remedies?
Ears being one of the most delicate organs should not be something you should experiment with. However, if the crackling in your ear is just because of some natural cause and not any infection then it is fair to think about using some home remedies to get some relief.
Here are a few safe home remedies that you may try to get quick relief from this annoying crackling sound.
- Flushing mucus from the sinus: You can use salt water to rinse your nose that will help you clear mucus from the sinus which in turn might help your eustachian tube get free.
- Removing excess earwax: You can use some cotton earbuds along with ear drops prescribed by a doctor which will soften the earwax. Carefully remove some earwax but don’t put the bud deep inside your ear.
- Use over-the-counter ear drops: You can get decongestant ear drops from the medical shop which helps to reduce the mucus and earwax. Basically, they reduce the congestion in the eustachian tube.
- Pop your ears: One simple remedy is popping your ears. A simple act of chewing or a yawn can help regulate pressure in your middle ear region and can give you instant relief from the crackling sound.
The crackling in ear is definitely not a severe issue if it occurs once in a while or even regularly. This mostly occurs due to pressure variation in your middle ear and it gets corrected by itself without any external assistance within a few days.
If you experience such sound rarely then following the home remedies mentioned above can help you get quick relief. Whereas, if you are someone who is regularly facing this problem, consulting a doctor and getting examined can help you get started with a diagnosis early on.
The bottom line is ‘crackling in ear’ is a treatable problem and it’s not severe. Stay aware of the other possible causes of this sound and take appropriate actions based upon the symptoms observed.