Sometimes it seems as if one’s ears have a mind — or tenants — of their own. Odd noises can be heard that are … what exactly? Snaps, crackles, and pops develop and seem to take on a life of their own.

These are usually benign and a passing thing. If a ringing develops and won’t go away it could be tinnitus and a hearing health professional should be consulted. But other temporary or periodic sounds are probably benign.

A buildup of earwax can actually lead to a wide variety of odd sounds (including ringing). The problem is usually a hunk of it is leaning on the eardrum and altering its performance, creating a vibration when none should be occurring (since sound waves should be what causes it to vibrate). Earwax could also just be creating odd pathways in the ear canal.

If you suspect there’s an earwax issue deep in your ear, do not try to treat it yourself. More harm than good could result. A medical specialist has the proper tools and skills for that job.

The tensor tympani muscle is a little failsafe mechanism that is part of your hearing mechanism. Loud noises cause it to leap into action to protect the inner ear. It also does duty regulating the sound you hear from inside your own head (when chewing and talking). Like any muscle, it can have spasms and these can cause a low rumbling sound to be heard.

Finally, a common cause of crackling noises is the Eustachian tube. It runs from your inner ear to the back of your nose and is vital — it keeps pressure equalized when you swallow, yawn, or blow your nose. You wouldn’t want to live without it. But it can get congested due to an illness or allergy and its performance degrades, which causes not just pressure issues in your head but often accompanying popping or clicking sounds.

If any odd sound or sensation lingers for more than a week a hearing health professional should be consulted.