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

Most individuals refer to tinnitus as a buzzing or ringing sound. But that classification, though helpful, is dismally inadequate. Those two noises are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. In fact, a wide array of sounds can be heard as a result of this condition. And that’s a substantial fact.

Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand might be, such a limited definition could make it difficult for some individuals to recognize their tinnitus symptoms. It may not even occur to your friend Barb that the whooshing and crashing sounds in her ears are caused by tinnitus. So having a more thorough idea of what tinnitus sounds like can be good for everyone, including Barb.

A List of Noises You Might Hear With Tinnitus

Tinnitus is, generally, the sense of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this noise really exists (this is known as objective tinnitus). And sometimes it’s an artifact of your ears (which means that the sounds can’t be heard by others and don’t actually exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The form of tinnitus you’re dealing with will probably (but not always) have an effect on the noise you hear. And you could possibly hear a lot of different sounds:

  • High-pitch whistle: Picture the sound of a whistling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that specific high-pitched squeal. Not surprisingly, this one can be quite unpleasant.
  • Static: The sound of static is another kind of tinnitus noise. Some people hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.
  • Whooshing: Commonly experienced by individuals who have objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing sound in the ears is often caused by circulation through blood vessels around the ear. You’re basically hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? Maybe you hear it when someone who lives near you is working on a construction project in their back yard. But it’s the type of sound that often manifests when someone is suffering from tinnitus.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. Many individuals even hear what sounds like cicada’s or other insects.
  • Ringing: We’ll begin with the most common noise, a ringing in the ears. This is frequently a high pitched ring or whine. Sometimes, this sound is even described as a “tone”. When most people consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Roaring: This one is often characterized as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. It might sound calming at first, but the reality is that the noise is much more overwhelming than the gently rolling waves you may imagine.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum has a very specific sound, mostly due to its electric motor. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this exact sound.

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

It’s also totally feasible for one person to hear numerous tinnitus-related noises. Last week, as an example, Brandon was hearing a ringing noise. He got together with friends at a loud restaurant last night and is now hearing a loud static sound. Tinnitus sounds can and do change, sometimes frequently.

The explanation for the change isn’t always well known (mainly because the causes of tinnitus aren’t always well understood).

Canceling Out Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will typically take two possible approaches: masking the noise or helping your brain figure out how to dismiss the noise. Whatever your tinnitus sounds may be, the first step is to identify and familiarize yourself with them.

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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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