Crackling Sound in the Ear: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Crackling Sound in the Ear: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Among various symptoms of different ear conditions, one common is a crackling sound in the ear. It varies from a mild hissing or buzzing sound to a proper crackling or babbling voice in the ear.

Patients that hear such abnormal sounds in the ear report that “I have sound resembling crackling in my ears like rice Krispies”. So, are you also one of those continuously hearing an annoying sound?

Are you unaware of its causes and want to know about its treatment? If yes, you got yourself in the right place because we will talk about the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of the crackling sound in the ear in this article.

So, stay tuned.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Why Do I Hear Crackling in the Ear?

It is essential to know the causes of the crackling in the ear if you want to get rid of it for good. Crackling in the ear can result from several conditions, both benign and serious.

So, below are the causes why you hear those popping sounds in the ears.

1. Accumulation of Ear Wax

First of all, accumulation and impaction of ear wax is the most common cause of crackling in the ear. In general, the ear wax is moved out of the ear by movements of the jaw.

However, wax becomes impacted in the ears of the people who continuously use earbuds, AirPods, any ear instrument, or cotton buds. It is because the wax is pushed deeper into the ear with such devices instead of being removed naturally.

This impacted wax forms a layer over the eardrum and you hear an uncomfortable sound.

2. Middle Ear Infection

Middle ear infections, also called acute otitis media are the accumulation of infected fluid in the ear canal. This fluid can block the ear canal and also lead to eustachian tube dysfunction.

Consequently, you hear a crackling sound in the ear as that fluid rubs against your eardrum and moves in the ear canal.

3. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction

Have you ever experienced a blocking sensation in your ear when you are on a plane? Well, it is because of the opening of the eustachian tube, a small passage connecting the ears to the nose and throat.

This tube only opens when the outer pressure increases as in yawing, coughing, or swallowing. However, if this tube does not function appropriately for any reason, you can hear a crackling in your ear when swallowing.

4. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Temporomandibular joints lie in between the ear and the chin attaching the face to the skull. When these joints are not approximated symmetrically, face any trauma or injury, or there is damage to the bone or cartilage, there can be abnormal sounds in your ears.

It can result in crackling in the ear, no pain or with pain. Also, these symptoms are prominent during chewing or moving the jaw.

5. Ear Congestion

Ear Congestion is the condition where fluids suffocate the ear canal because of inadequate removal or overproduction. Conditions such as allergies, common colds, ear infections, and blowing the nose can cause ear congestion.

This ear congestion can result in a crackling sound in the ear by mechanisms the same as that of a middle ear infection.

6. Mennier’s Disease

Mennier’s disease is an inner ear disease where there is an increased volume of fluid in the ear canal. It affects people in their adulthood and is associated with dizziness, tinnitus, reduced hearing, headache, and loss of balance.

One of the symptoms of Mennier's disease is a crackling sound in the ear.

7. Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a ringing sensation in the ear associated with a problem in maintaining balance. One of the diseases causing tinnitus is the Middle Ear Myoclonus.

It is caused because of the sudden spasm of the muscles ear. As a result, there is a popping or crackling sound in the ears.

8. Hyperaucasis

Last but not least, hyperacusis is related to crackling sound in the ears. Hyperaucasis is defined as hypersensitivity to the sound. It can result from normal aging, side effects of medicines, and surgery.

This condition causes a crackling sound in the ear or tinnitus.

Part 2: Diagnosis of the Crackling Sound in the Ear

Diagnosis of the crackling sound in the ears is mainly based on the history and examination. The questions related to all the underlying causes of crackling in the ear are asked by the doctors in addition to the deep examination of the ear.

However, a person himself can asses the crackling in the ear caused by accumulated wax in many cases. In serious cases with diagnostic uncertainty, some tests like hearing exams and otoscopies can be helpful.

Part 3: How to Get Rid of Crackling in the Ear?

Now comes the most important part. How to treat the crackling in the ear.

1. Treatment of the Cause

Symptomatic treatment helps treat the ear crackling sound for a short time. However, it is not effective as a long-term treatment.

So, the solution is to remove the cause of the crackling sound in the ear. Here are the treatment options for the cause.


Antibiotics are useful in the treatment of middle ear infections, inner ear infections, and even congestion. But antibiotics cannot be taken without a doctor’s consultation and ensuring that you have an infection.

Amoxicillin is one of the most effective antibiotics for ear infections.

Ear Drops

Ear drops are one of the at-home treatments for the impacted ear wax. Although glycerine and baby oil can be used to soften the impacted hard wax, using hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is more appropriate.

These drops soften the wax and are useful for removing the wax naturally or through syringing.

Anti-Allergy medicines

Allergies result in both the accumulation of fluid and the buildup of the wax in the ear. These are common in spring and winter. So, if you often experience allergies, use anti-histamines to treat them and thus crackling sound in the ear.

Ear wax Removal

Ear wax removal should be the go-to treatment in cases of ear wax build-up causing a popping sound in the ear. It is essential to remove the ear wax with recommended methods instead of a cotton stick as it worsens the condition.

Specifically designed Q-tips can be used for at-home removal while you can also get it removed by audiologists.


Decongestants are helpful in cases of ear congestion. Over-the-counter oral medicines or topical drops are available to treat congestion of the ears.

Also, if you have pain, take NSAIDs along with decongestants.

TMJ Surgery

Temporomandibular joint surgery is the ultimate treatment in cases of TMJ disorders. Although mild issues of TMJ joints can be resolved with symptomatic treatment, the surgeon’s opinion and interventions are important in severe cases.

The conservative treatment for TMJ disorders is jaw exercises.

Eustachian Tube Dilation

Blockage of the eustachian tube is one of the most common causes of crackling in the ear right? So, it can either be opened by conservative measures or through eustachian tube balloon dilation.

Using Ear Tubes

Lastly, if the fluid accumulated in the ear canal is not being drained optimally by home remedies, the placement of ear tubes is the best option.

These tubes not only drain the access fluid in the ear but also manage the pressure gradient.

2. Home Remedies

The options for the treatment of crackling sound in the ear mentioned above include home remedies, medical treatment, and surgical treatment.

Here are a few home treatment options to try before consulting the doctor.

Valsalva Maneuver

The Valsalva maneuver is the method of opening the blocked ear and reducing the crackling sound in it. For this, you have to close all other airway tracks on the face other than the ears.

So, pinch your nose in a way that no air passes through it and close your mouth. Then exhale a breath outwards forcefully. The ear will be opened and the crackling sound will go away.

It is a good option for short-term relief. However, talk to a doctor for long-term treatment.

Pop Your Ears

If the crackling sound is not too severe and does not occur too often either, popping up the ears can be super helpful. This one is simple.

All you need to do is swallow something, a big yawn, cough, or act like you are chewing.

TMJ Exercises

TMJ exercises can also be effective in reducing the crackling sounds in the ears. These include repetitive cycles of contracting, stretching, and relaxing the jaws along with massaging the muscles.

Ear Protection

The best treatment for the crackling sound in the ear is its prevention. So, take measures to prevent congestion, infection, and most importantly accumulation of ear wax.

Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation by water at room temperature or saline solution is a home remedy for getting rid of a crackling sound in the ear caused by eustachian tube dysfunction.

3. At-Home Otoscope

Most of the cases of crackling sound in the ear are due to the impaction of the wax in the ear canal. However, they could be due to some other cause. In both cases, the best bet is to look inside the ear to determine the reason for hearing those weird sounds.

The use of an at-home otoscope can help you with diagnosing the cause of the crackling sound in the ear. Additionally, it helps in treating the cause as well if it is due to accumulation of the wax.

So, we suggest a Bebird R1 Ear Camera to check the inside of your ear. This is an at-home otoscope with a wide-angle HD camera with an LED light to illuminate the inside of the ears and show wax and fluid with high precision.

In addition, it comes with silicone-covered wax-removing spoons and spiral Q-tips to get rid of the impacted wax.


Crackling in the ears is a disturbing sound in the ears that does not let you enjoy life freely. It occurs because of the blockage of the ears by wax, infectious fluid, eustachian tube dysfunction, and TMJ disorders.

While some of these causes require medical interventions as discussed in this article, you can get rid of the wax by yourself with an at-home ear camera.

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