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

A buzzing and ringing sound is what the majority of individuals hear when they have tinnitus. But that description, though useful, is dismally insufficient. Tinnitus doesn’t always show up in one of those two ways. Rather, this particular hearing disorder can make a veritable symphony of various sounds. And that’s important to note.

Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand might be, such a limited classification could make it difficult for some individuals to recognize their 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 having a more thorough idea of what tinnitus sounds like can be good for everyone, Barb included.

A List of Noises You May Hear With Tinnitus

Generally speaking, tinnitus is the sense of noise in the ears. In some cases, this noise actually exists (this is called objective tinnitus). And at other times, it can be phantom noises in your ears (which means that the noises can’t be heard by others and don’t actually exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The exact type of sounds you hear will most likely depend on what form of tinnitus you have. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you could hear:

  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing sometimes even sounds like an insect or cicada.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum has a rather specific sound, mostly due to its electric motor. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this exact sound.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus sounds. Frequently, this is a high pitched whine or ring. Occasionally, this sound is even referred to as a “tone”. When the majority of people think of tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • 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.
  • Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus may sound like static. Some people hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.
  • High-pitch whistle: You know that sound your tea kettle makes when it begins to boil? Occasionally, tinnitus can sound like that particular high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite unpleasant.
  • Roaring: This one is often characterized as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. Initially, this sound might not be very unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
  • 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 it’s the type of sound that often manifests when someone is suffering from tinnitus.

Someone who has tinnitus could hear many potential noises and this list is hardly complete.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

Someone with tinnitus can also experience more than one noise. Brandon, for instance, spent the majority of last week hearing a ringing sound. He met up with friends at a loud restaurant last night and is now hearing a loud static noise. It isn’t uncommon for the sound you hear from tinnitus to change like this – and it may change frequently.

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

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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