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Crackling In The Ear: Causes, Symptoms, And Home Remedies!

By James Donovan

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This article was created after thorough research and has been improved with the assistance of AI technology. Furthermore, our dedicated editorial team has meticulously fact-checked and polished its content for accuracy and clarity.

Have you ever found yourself puzzled by a strange crackling or popping sound emanating from your ear? This phenomenon, commonly referred to as “crackling in the ear,” can be both perplexing and irritating. While it might seem harmless at first, persistent crackling can be a symptom of an underlying condition that requires attention.

In this article, we’ll delve into the various causes, symptoms, and effective home remedies to alleviate this annoying issue.

Key takeaways:

Crackling in the ear, also known as ear popping, can be a bothersome sensation and is often accompanied by other symptoms.
It may originate from a spectrum of causes, such as blockages, infections, injuries, sinus issues, or more critical medical conditions.
There are several home remedies that may help alleviate crackling in the ear but it’s essential to exercise caution when attempting these and also seek medical advice if symptoms persist or worsen.

What Causes Crackling In The Ear?

Crackling in the ear can stem from a variety of factors, ranging from temporary blockages to more serious medical conditions. Determining the best course of action requires an understanding of the possible reasons.

Causes Of Crackling In The Ear

Here are some of the most common culprits behind this auditory sensation:

Earwax buildup

One of the most common causes of crackling in the ear is excessive earwax accumulation. Earwax, also known as cerumen, is a natural substance produced by the body to protect the ear canal and prevent foreign particles from entering.

However, when wax production becomes excessive or its removal is hindered, it can lead to a buildup. As the wax dries and hardens, it can create a crunching or crackling noise when you move your jaw or chew.

Malfunction of the Eustachian tube

The Eustachian tube is a tiny passageway that joins the back of the throat and the middle ear. Its primary function is to regulate air pressure in the middle ear, allowing for proper drainage and ventilation. When this tube becomes blocked or dysfunctional, it can cause a variety of issues, including crackling, popping, or even a feeling of fullness in the ear.

This blockage can be caused by factors such as allergies, sinus infections, or changes in air pressure during activities like flying or scuba diving.

Middle ear infections

Infections in the middle ear, such as acute otitis media or chronic otitis media, can lead to fluid buildup and the formation of air bubbles within the middle ear cavity. As these bubbles pop or move around, they can create a crackling or popping sensation in the affected ear.

Middle ear infections are often accompanied by other symptoms such as ear pain, fever, and temporary hearing loss.

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder

The temporomandibular joint, commonly referred to as the TMJ, is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. TMJ disorder can cause a variety of symptoms according to WebMD including crackling or popping sounds in the ear when opening and closing the mouth.

This is because the TMJ is located near the ear canal, and any dysfunction or misalignment can affect the surrounding structures.


While tinnitus is typically associated with persistent ringing, buzzing, or whistling sounds in the ear, some individuals with this condition may also experience crackling or popping noises. Numerous things, such as exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, or underlying medical disorders, can result in tinnitus.

Trauma or injury

Injuries to the ear or head, such as a perforated eardrum or a fracture in the temporal bone (the bone that houses the ear canal and inner ear structures), can cause crackling or other abnormal sounds in the affected ear. These injuries may result from accidents, head trauma, or even forceful insertion of objects into the ear canal.

Sinus issues

The sinuses are air-filled cavities located in the skull, surrounding the nasal passages. Blockages or infections in these sinus cavities can put pressure on the Eustachian tubes, leading to crackling or popping sensations in the ear. Common sinus-related issues that can contribute to ear crackling include sinusitis, allergies, and nasal polyps.

Read more: Can Sinus Infection Cause Dizziness? The Connection Explained

Symptoms Associated With Ear Crackling

While crackling in the ear is the primary symptom, it may be accompanied by other signs and discomforts, depending on the underlying cause. Some common symptoms associated with ear crackling include:

  • Popping or clicking sounds, in addition to the crackling noise
  • A feeling of fullness, or blockage in the ear
  • Mild to moderate ear pain or discomfort
  • Temporary deafness or amplification of sounds in the afflicted ear
  • Dizziness or vertigo (in cases of middle ear infections or trauma)
  • Tinnitus (persistent ringing, buzzing, or other noises in the ear)
  • Ear discharge or drainage (in cases of middle ear infections)

It’s important to note that the severity and duration of these symptoms can vary widely, depending on the specific cause and the individual’s overall hearing health.

Home Remedies For Ear Crackling

In many cases, ear crackling can be alleviated or managed through various home remedies. However, it’s crucial to avoid inserting any objects into the ear canal, as this can cause further damage or complications. Consider the following successful home remedies to get rid of the problems and improve your hearing health:

➡️Warm compress: Applying a warm compress to the affected ear can help loosen earwax buildup and promote drainage, potentially relieving crackling sounds caused by wax accumulation. Simply soak a clean cloth in warm (not hot) water, wring it out, and hold it gently against the ear for several minutes.

➡️Ear drops: Over-the-counter ear drops containing ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide, or glycerin can help soften and remove excess earwax. Follow the instructions on the product label carefully, and avoid using these drops if you have a perforated eardrum or ear tube.

➡️Valsalva maneuver: This simple technique involves gently pinching your nose closed while exhaling, which can help open the Eustachian tubes and equalize pressure in the middle ear. If the crackling is caused by Eustachian tube dysfunction, this maneuver may provide relief.

➡️Nasal decongestants: If the crackling is caused by sinus congestion or Eustachian tube blockage due to allergies or sinus infections, using over-the-counter nasal decongestant sprays or oral decongestants may help alleviate the symptoms.

➡️Humidifiers: Dry air can contribute to earwax buildup and exacerbate sinus issues, which can lead to crackling in the ear. Using a humidifier, especially during dry or cold months, can help moisturize the air and potentially alleviate crackling sounds.

➡️Warm olive oil or mineral oil: Carefully applying a few drops of warm olive oil or mineral oil into the ear canal can help soften and dislodge earwax buildup. It’s important to use these oils sparingly and avoid pushing them too far into the ear canal.

➡️Chewing gum or sucking on hard candies: The act of chewing or sucking can help stimulate the muscles responsible for opening the Eustachian tubes, potentially alleviating crackling caused by pressure imbalances in the middle ear.

➡️Over-the-counter pain relievers: If the crackling is accompanied by ear pain or discomfort, taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can provide temporary relief from the discomfort.

➡️Jaw exercises: If the crackling is related to TMJ disorder, performing gentle jaw exercises, such as opening and closing the mouth slowly or gently moving the jaw from side to side, may help alleviate tension and improve joint function.

➡️Stress management techniques: Stress can contribute to or exacerbate TMJ disorders and other conditions that may cause ear crackling. Incorporating the stress management techniques explained by Harvard Health like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga into your routine may help alleviate symptoms.

It’s important to note that while home remedies can provide relief in some cases, persistent or severe crackling accompanied by other concerning symptoms, such as severe pain, hearing loss, or dizziness, may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires professional medical attention.


Crackling in the ear can be a frustrating and sometimes concerning experience, but understanding the potential causes and trying home remedies can often provide relief. Whether it’s caused by something as simple as earwax buildup or a more complex condition like a middle ear infection or TMJ disorder, taking proactive steps to address the issue can help alleviate discomfort and prevent further complications.

However, if the crackling persists or is accompanied by other symptoms like severe pain, hearing loss, dizziness, or ear discharge, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional. Seeking medical advice from an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist or an audiologist can help identify the underlying cause and determine the appropriate course of treatment.


1. Will ear crackling go away on its own?

Sometimes, but persistent crackling requires medical attention.

2. Should I go to the doctor if my ear is crackling?

Yes, if it persists or has other symptoms like pain or hearing loss.

3. How can I open my blocked ear at home?

Try the Valsalva maneuver, decongestants, and warm compresses.

4. Does Vicks help with clogged ears?

Some find relief by applying it around the outer ear, but not in the ear canal.

5. Does putting a cotton ball in the ear help?

No, It can push the wax in further and cause blockage.

James Donovan

Dr. James Donovan, MD, is an esteemed otolaryngologist renowned for his exceptional expertise in ear, nose, and throat (ENT) health. With a profound dedication to advancing medical knowledge and improving patient outcomes, Dr. Donovan has emerged as a leading authority in the field.

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