Crackling and Popping in Ears

Discussion in 'Dr. Stephen Nagler (MD)' started by MrCrybaby, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. Dr. Nagler is not answering questions.
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    1. MrCrybaby

      MrCrybaby Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2014, 10/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      School Band, Acoustic Trauma
      Hi Dr. Nagler,

      First of all thank you for volunteering your time and expertise to help us out, it’s great to have someone to turn to.

      I started getting popping in my ears about a month after my noise accident. My GP told me it’s just the sound of my e-tubes and not to worry. It’s continued for 2 months now and I’ve become very paranoid and distressed that the sound somehow damaged my inner ear, especially my ossicles. It started the day after I tried to Valsalva maneuver my ears to stop feeling full.

      My question is whether LOUD sound or the Valsalva maneuver can hurt the inner ear/ossicles in an irreparable way, or if this sort or clicking and popping normal. It comes and goes over the course of the day, ranging from very sharp and loud to quiet and dull. I do not have meaningful ear fullness these days.

      I have a small airway/sleep apnea and TMJ problems, so this sound could very well have been there all along. Maybe I’m just hooking onto it?

      I tried to research this on my own, it only made me panic more.

      Thanks for your help and expertise!
    2. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Thank you for the kind words. It means a lot.

      Ossicular disruption does not present as crackling or popping. With ossicular disruption you have a conductive hearing loss, which can be identified on an audiogram that looks at both air conduction and bone conduction. Popping and cracking are typically symptoms associated with Eustachian tube function or (more rarely) either myoclonus or tonic tensor tympani syndrome. All three conditions in the previous sentence are a nuisance rather than representing any sort of danger or damage. If you want to get to the bottom of it, the specialist to see would be an ENT or (preferably) an otologist, who is an ENT with particular training and expertise in ear-related conditions.

      A LOUD sound can cause damage to the tympanic membrane or (very rarely) the ossicles, neither of which appears to be the case with you - because your GP would have seen a perforated tympanic membrane, and - as noted above - your symptoms are not suggestive of damaged ossicles. A Valsalva maneuver can cause a tympanic membrane perforation (which, again, you do not have). I have never heard of a Valsalva maneuver causing damage to the ossicles, but I guess anything is possible.

      So here's what I think you should do:
      (1) Stop trying to research this on your own.
      (2) See an ENT or an otologist so you will have a proper evaluation and diagnosis. The best I myself can do is offer an educated guess.

      You are most welcome.

      Stephen M. Nagler, M.D.
      • Hug Hug x 1

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