Edison Stanford Intelligent Hearing - Salt Lake City, Draper, and Provo, UT

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

Most people describe tinnitus as a ringing or buzzing sound. But tinnitus can’t always be classified in this way. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Actually, 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 description could make it difficult for some individuals to recognize their tinnitus symptoms. It might not even occur to your friend Barb that the crashing and whooshing sounds in her ears are a result of tinnitus. So everybody, including Barb, will profit from having a stronger idea of what tinnitus can sound like.

A List of Noises You May Hear With Tinnitus

Tinnitus is, generally, the sense of noises in your ears. In some cases, this noise really exists (this is known as objective tinnitus). And sometimes it’s a noise created in your ears (which means that the sounds can’t be heard by others and don’t really exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The exact kind of sounds you hear will likely depend on what type of tinnitus you have. And you could potentially hear a lot of different sounds:

  • Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus may sound like static. Some people hear a high intensity static and some hear a low intensity static.
  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing can even sound like an insect or cicada.
  • Ringing: We’ll begin with the most common noise, a ringing in the ears. Usually, this is a high pitched whine or ring. Sometimes, 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 people hear a whooshing noise triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a type of “objective tinnitus”. You’re basically hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
  • High-pitch whistle: You know that sound your tea kettle makes when it begins to boil? That specific high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by those who have tinnitus. This one is obviously quite distressing.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another typical tinnitus sound. It might sound calming at first, but the reality is that the noise is much more overwhelming than the gently lapping waves you may imagine.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a building project in their back yard. But for people who experience tinnitus, this sound is commonly heard.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum cleaner has a rather specific sound, mostly due to its electric motor. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this exact sound.

Someone who is suffering from tinnitus might hear lots of possible noises and this list is hardly exhaustive.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

It’s also totally possible for one person to experience a number of tinnitus-related sounds. Brandon, for example, spent the majority of last week hearing a ringing sound. He got together with friends at a noisy restaurant last night and now he’s hearing a loud static noise. Tinnitus sounds can and do change, sometimes regularly.

It’s not well known why this happens (mostly because the causes of tinnitus aren’t always well known).

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are typically two potential approaches to dealing with tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to dismiss the noise. And in either case, 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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