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

A buzzing and ringing sound is what most people hear when they have tinnitus. But tinnitus can’t always be classified in this way. Tinnitus doesn’t always show up in one of those two ways. Rather, this specific hearing ailment can make a veritable symphony of different sounds. And that’s a substantial fact.

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

Tinnitus Might Cause You to Hear These Noises

Generally speaking, tinnitus is the sense of noise in the ears. Sometimes, this is a real noise (this is known as objective tinnitus). And in other situations, it can be phantom noises in your ears (which means that the sounds can’t be heard by others and don’t really exist – that’s known as subjective tinnitus). The variety of tinnitus you’re dealing with will probably (but not always) have an impact on the noise you hear. And you could possibly hear a number of different sounds:

  • Screeching: Have you ever heard the sound of metal grinding? You might have heard this noise if you’ve ever been near a construction site. But for individuals who cope with tinnitus, this sound is often heard.
  • Ringing: We’ll start with the most common sound, a ringing in the ears. Usually, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is frequently called a “tone”. When the majority of individuals think of tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • High-pitch whistle: Image the sound of a boiling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can sound like that specific high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite annoying.
  • Whooshing: Frequently experienced by people with objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing noise in the ears is often a result of circulation through blood vessels around the ear. With this type of tinnitus, you’re basically hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Roaring: The sound of roaring ocean waves is another prevalent tinnitus sound. At first, this sound may not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum has a very distinct sound, mostly due to its electric motor. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this particular sound.
  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. Many people even hear what sounds like cicada’s or other insects.
  • Static: The sound of static is another type of tinnitus noise. Some individuals hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.

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

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

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

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

Treating Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will typically take two possible strategies: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to dismiss the noise. And in either case, that means helping you identify and familiarize yourself 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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