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 classified like this. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. In fact, a large range of sounds can be heard due to this condition. And that’s important to note.

Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand might be, such a restricted definition could make it challenging for some people 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 having a more comprehensive notion of what tinnitus sounds like can be positive for everyone, Barb included.

Tinnitus Might Cause You to Hear These Sounds

Tinnitus is, generally, the sound of noises in your 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 sounds can’t be heard by others and don’t actually exist – that’s known as subjective tinnitus). The exact type of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And there are a lot of possible sounds you could hear:

  • Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus might sound like static. Some people hear a high intensity static and some hear a low intensity static.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor inside of your vacuum has a unique sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this exact sound.
  • Whooshing: Commonly experienced by people who have objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing sound 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.
  • Ringing: We’ll start with the most common noise, a ringing in the ears. This is frequently a high pitched ring or whine. The ringing is frequently called a “tone”. Ringing is probably what the majority of people think about when they consider tinnitus.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another prevalent tinnitus sound. It might sound calming at first, but the truth is that the sound is much more overpowering than the gently lapping waves you may think.
  • High-pitch whistle: Think about that sound your tea kettle makes when it begins to boil? Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that specific high-pitched squeal. This one is undoubtedly rather unpleasant.
  • Screeching: Have you ever heard the sound of metal grinding? You might have heard this sound if you’ve ever been around a construction project. But it’s the kind of sound that often manifests when a person is experiencing tinnitus.
  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s not ringing you hear, but a buzzing sound. Many individuals even hear what sounds like cicada’s or other insects.

Someone who is suffering from tinnitus could hear many potential noises and this list isn’t complete.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

It’s also entirely possible for one patient to hear a number of tinnitus-related noises. Brandon, as an example, spent the majority of last week hearing a ringing sound. He met up with friends at a loud restaurant last night and now he’s hearing a loud static sound. It isn’t unusual for the noise you hear from tinnitus to change like this – and it may change frequently.

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

Treating Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will normally take two possible strategies: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to ignore 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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