A clicking sound in the ear is a variation of tinnitus, which may be caused by loud noise, brain tumors, ear and sinus infections, thyroid complications, or female hormonal changes, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders explains. However, tinnitus is often harmless and has no detectable cause. Tinnitus may also be a symptom of Meniere's disease or another condition that damages or alters the auditory system.
When tinnitus manifests as sharp clicking, the symptoms may be triggered by abnormal muscle contractions of the ear, Mayo Clinic explains. Doctors may use audiological exams or imaging tests to come up with a diagnosis, but in many cases, the cause remains unknown. Other known triggers of tinnitus include age-related hearing loss, the stiffening of middle ear bones, earwax blockage, and head or neck injuries. Specific medications, such as antibiotics, diuretics and antidepressants, may also cause or worsen tinnitus.
People who are routinely exposed to loud noise may be at risk of developing tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders explains. This form of hearing loss occurs when sensory cells in the inner ear become damaged, interfering with their ability to relay sound to the brain. Service members exposed to loud explosives can develop tinnitus when shock waves put excessive pressure on their skulls, causing damage to brain tissue involved in auditory functions.