Gilberts Audiology & Hearing Aid Center - Oklahoma

Woman tries to identify the ringing, whooshing sound only she can hear.

A ringing or buzzing sound is what the majority of people hear when they suffer from tinnitus. But that classification, though useful, is woefully insufficient. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. In fact, a wide range of sounds can be heard as a result of this condition. And that’s important to note.

That “ringing and buzzing” classification can make it challenging for some people to identify if the sounds they’re hearing are genuinely tinnitus symptoms. If Barb from down the street hears only crashing or whooshing in her ears, it might not even occur to her that tinnitus is to blame. So everyone, including Barb, will profit from having a better idea of what tinnitus can sound like.

A List of Noises You Might Hear With Tinnitus

Tinnitus is, generally, the sense of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this noise actually exists (this is known as objective tinnitus). And in other situations, it can be phantom sounds in your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t actually exist and can’t be heard by others – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The specific kind of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you have. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you might hear:

  • Electric motor: The electric motor inside of your vacuum has a unique sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this exact sound.
  • Roaring: The sound of roaring ocean waves is another common tinnitus sound. It may sound calming at first, but the reality is that the noise is much more overwhelming than the gently rolling waves you might think.
  • Whooshing: Some people hear a whooshing noise triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a form of “objective tinnitus”. You’re basically hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
  • Screeching: Have you ever heard the sound of grinding metal? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a construction project in their garage. But for people who cope with tinnitus, this sound is often heard.
  • High-pitch whistle: Think about that sound your tea kettle makes when it starts boiling? That specific high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by those who have tinnitus. Not surprisingly, this one can be quite annoying.
  • Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus may sound like static. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static depends on the person and their distinct tinnitus.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus sounds. Usually, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is often called a “tone”. Ringing is probably what the majority of people think about when they contemplate tinnitus.
  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s a buzzing not a ringing. Many people even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.

A person who is suffering from tinnitus may hear lots of potential noises and this list isn’t complete.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

Someone with tinnitus can also hear more than one sound. Last week, as an example, Brandon was hearing a ringing sound. He got together with friends at a loud restaurant last night and is now hearing a loud static noise. Tinnitus sounds can and do change, sometimes frequently.

It’s not well known why this occurs (that’s because we still don’t really understand what the underlying causes of tinnitus are).

Canceling Out Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will typically take two possible strategies: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to ignore the noise. And in either situation, that means helping you identify and get familiar with the sounds of your tinnitus, whatever they might be.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.
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