Ear noises: ringing, buzzing, crackling and whooshing sounds

Last update on Aug, 30, 2021

What causes noises in my ear and how can I stop them?

After a concert or after exposure to loud noises, for example, there may be a ringing in the ears in the form of a buzzing or other sound. If the noises in the ears persist for more than three months, it is referred to as chronic tinnitus. Noises in the ear can vary in intensity: in some cases, those affected can integrate constant noises in the ear into everyday life, but for some people the noises in the ears are so annoying that they affects their daily life, sleep and personality. The consequences of this can be, for example, headaches, irritability, tension and / or difficulty concentrating.

Noises in the ears can occur on one or both sides. For some people, the buzzing, crackling or whooshing sound occurs suddenly, for others it is constant and persistent. This is why it is important an individual consideration of the specific clinical picture.

Ringing in one ear only or both?

Noise in the ears occurs on one or both sides. If you add to the noise in your ears a feeling of excessive pressure in your ears or plugged ears, this could be a sign of sudden hearing loss. If symptoms persist, it is necessary to visit a ENT specialist.

Some people are more likely to hear a whooshing sound in their ears similar to their own heartbeat. Unlike "real" tinnitus, this whooshing sound can also be heard by the doctor through a stethoscope. This ear noise is often caused by changes in the blood vessels, for example due to constrictions or similar conditions.

Ringing in ear

Ringing in the ears is nothing but tinnitus. Especially short-term noises in the ear are described as "ringing in the ears"; these arise for example from loud music, concerts or other particularly loud noises.

However, ringing in the ears can also be caused by physical factors, such as otitis media or a foreign body in the ear. Another common cause can be stress. Ringing in the ears combined with dizziness is a characteristic sign of sudden hearing loss and so-called Menière's disease.

Noises can be expressed as whistling, beeping, buzzing, crackling or clicking in the ear. Those affected often describe noises as very high pitched tones that occur continuously and monotonously.

Buzzing in ear

The constant buzzing in the ear is divided into subjective and objective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus is a more common form, whereby the acoustic signal in the ear is the expression of a modified hearing processing. In objective tinnitus, the sound actually exists in the head and is often due to vasoconstriction. Both types can cause symptoms such as beeping, whistling, or buzzing in the ear. Tinnitus can often also be the result of a noise that has damaged the sensory cells of the cochlea in the inner ear.

Whooshing sound in ear

What the patient perceives as a whooshing sound in the ear is often the sound of blood flow. Patients also describe this phenomenon as the sensation of perceiving one's heartbeat in the ear.

When a noise in the ear increases and decreases with the rhythm of the heartbeat, tinnitus is also called pulsatile tinnitus. For example, one possible cause of pulsatile tinnitus is high blood pressure. Other causes can also be related to the side effects of some medications.

Crackling sounds in ears

Crackling sounds in the ears are generally caused by earwax buildup that can make "crackling" noises during the movement of the jaw. Other conditions that can cause crackling sounds in the ear are acute otitis media and eustachian tube dysfunction.

Causes of ringing in ears

There are many causes that lead to tinnitus. Below is an overview of possible causes of ringing in the ears and how it can be treated:

Acoustic trauma from noise or impact

Loud noises, loud music, and concerts can damage the sensory cells of the inner ear. In the worst case, they can also cause an acoustic trauma, which can also be caused by a severe blow or impact to the head, a skull injury, or a nearby fireworks blast, for example. Due to the damage to the auditory nerve, only few acoustic signals are heard, or at worst, none. Tinnitus fills this gap with a permanent wheeze or beep. In noisy environments, you should always wear hearing protection, such as earplugs to protect your hearing.

Earwax plug in the ear canal

A plug of earwax can also cause noises in the ears, as this means that noises from the outside can only be heard in a muffled way and the hearing ability is reduced. The plug can be professionally removed by an otolaryngologist, so that the symptoms of tinnitus also disappear again. The earwax buildup can also cause crackling sounds in ears.

Physical and mental stress

While stress is not directly related to the development of tinnitus, psychological factors can certainly favor or even intensify the noises in the ear.

Cardiovascular diseases

Ringing in the ears can occur in patients with vascular calcifications due to circulatory disturbances or increased blood pressure and can be expressed as ringing or buzzing in the ears. In this case, it is necessary to consult a specialist for a cardiovascular check.

Middle ear infections or flu-like infections

It can also happen that the ears are blocked and external noises are perceived as muffled due to a cold. As a rule, the symptoms disappear with the common cold. In the case of ringing in the ears following chronic otitis media, however, bacteria can enter the ear canal, which can lead to permanent damage to the hearing cells.


Tension can lead to tinnitus or ringing in the ears or worsen it due to constant stress and increased tension in certain muscles, such as those in the jaw. The strong pressure can damage the thin hair cells of the inner ear.

Medications and alcohol

Since alcohol affects the central nervous system, tinnitus can be favored or even triggered. Some medications also have side effects that affect hearing. In this case, if you think it is causing ringing in your ears, you should still consult a doctor before stopping the drug, to make sure that the cause is actually related to taking it.

What are the remedies for ringing or buzzing in the ears?

There are some keywords that can lead to the disappearance of the constant ringing in the ears, such as: less stress, a healthier life, protection from noise. People affected by tinnitus can actively support their therapy by paying more attention to themselves and asking themselves about the cause of the tinnitus, perhaps looking for it in a recent change in everyday life, or some problem causing stress and anxiety.

If it is established that the tinnitus is due to circulatory disorders, it makes sense to undertake a treatment aimed at promoting and improving blood circulation. If there are other causes such as stress, it makes sense to help reduce anxiety and tension, for example through relaxation techniques or breathing exercises. Even small breaks in everyday life can help. Hearing aids for tinnitus, also known as tinnitus-noisers, can also help treat ringing in the ears.

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