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

Most individuals refer to tinnitus as a buzzing or ringing sound. But tinnitus can’t always be categorized in this way. Those two noises are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. In fact, a wide array of sounds can be heard as a result of this condition. And that’s important to note.

That “buzzing and ringing” description can make it difficult for some people to determine if the sounds they’re hearing are really tinnitus symptoms. If Barb from down the road hears only whooshing or crashing in her ears, it may not even occur to her that tinnitus is responsible. So everybody, including Barb, will profit from having a better idea of what tinnitus can sound like.

Tinnitus May Cause You to Hear These Noises

Tinnitus is, generally, the sense of noises in your ears. In some cases, this noise actually exists (this is called objective tinnitus). And sometimes it’s an artifact of your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t really exist and can’t be heard by others – that’s known as subjective tinnitus). The specific kind of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And you could possibly hear a number of different sounds:

  • Whooshing: Some individuals hear a whooshing noise triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a form of “objective tinnitus”. You’re essentially hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
  • High-pitch whistle: Image the sound of a boiling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that particular high-pitched squeal. This one is obviously quite unpleasant.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor inside of your vacuum has a distinct sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this exact sound.
  • Static: In some instances, your tinnitus might sound like static. Some people hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.
  • Roaring: The sound of roaring ocean waves is another prevalent tinnitus sound. It may sound calming at first, but the truth is that the sound is much more overpowering than the gently lapping waves you might think.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a building project in their garage. But for individuals who cope with tinnitus, this sound is commonly heard.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus noises. This is often a high pitched ring or whine. The ringing is frequently called a “tone”. Ringing is probably what most people think about when they contemplate tinnitus.
  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s not ringing you hear, but a buzzing noise. Many individuals even hear what sounds like cicada’s or other insects.

This list is not exhaustive, but it definitely starts to give you a notion of just how many possible sounds a person with tinnitus may hear.

Change Over Time

Someone with tinnitus can also experience more than one sound. Last week, for example, Brandon was hearing a ringing noise. Now, after going out to a loud restaurant with friends, he hears a static noise. It isn’t abnormal for the noise you hear from tinnitus to change like this – and it may change often.

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

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are typically two possible approaches to managing tinnitus symptoms: helping your brain learn to ignore the sound or masking the sound. 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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