Do you experience clicking, popping or crackling sounds in the ears? It’s normal to hear this on occasion – usually when swallowing or during pressure changes – and it is rarely the sign of a serious issue. However, some people experience discomfort due to their “clicky” ear and may suffer from a lower quality of life or sleep problems as a result. Below is an overview about what a clicky ear may mean for you.
What Causes a Clicky Ear?
There are many possible causes for a clicky ear, including:
- Eustachian tube dysfunction. The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ear to the throat and are responsible for draining fluids and equalizing pressure. When they become inflamed due to allergies or a cold, it could cause clicking sounds.
- Impacted earwax. While earwax usually works its way out of the ears on its own, if it becomes trapped by a foreign object, it can become impacted, causing clicking and other symptoms. See an ENT to have impacted earwax removed, and never try to do so at home.
- Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that causes episodes of hearing loss, dizziness and tinnitus (phantom sounds in the ears), among other problems. While there is no cure, there are many options to manage symptoms.
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. This disorder involves pain and other issues with the jaw joint. Among jaw pain, stiffness, limited mobility and headaches, TMJ disorder can cause clicky sounds in the ears.
Diagnosing a Clicky Ear
In order to diagnose the cause of a clicky or crackly ear, a doctor will first conduct a physical exam and take your medical history. The physician will look in your ears using an otoscope and may order specialized tests.
Treating a Clicky Ear
While treatment is not always necessary, it may be recommended to relieve other symptoms of the disorder causing your clicky ear. For example:
- Ear tubes may be placed if fluid is trapped in the middle ear.
- Ear drops and suction may be used to soften and remove impacted earwax.
- White noise machines can provide relief for tinnitus caused by Meniere’s disease or other causes.
- A bite guard can be fitted to help relieve TMJ issues.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call CENTA Medical Group today.