Am I Hearing Tinnitus Noises?

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

Most people describe tinnitus as a buzzing or ringing sound. But that description, though useful, is dismally inadequate. Those two noises are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Actually, a huge array of sounds can be heard as a result of this condition. And that’s a substantial fact.

Because, as useful as that “buzzing and ringing” shorthand may 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 whooshing and crashing sounds in her ears are caused by tinnitus. So everyone, including Barb, will profit from having a better concept of what tinnitus can sound like.

A List of Sounds You Might Hear With Tinnitus

Generally speaking, tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears. Sometimes, this is an actual noise (this is called objective tinnitus). And in other situations, it can be phantom sounds 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 specific kind of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And you could potentially hear a number of different noises:

  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? You may have heard this noise if you’ve ever been around a construction site. But for people who experience tinnitus, this sound is frequently heard.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum cleaner has a fairly specific sound, in part because of its electric motor. Some individuals who have tinnitus hear a similar noise when their tinnitus flares up.
  • Roaring: This one is usually characterized as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. It may sound calming at first, but the reality is that the noise is much more overwhelming than the gently lapping waves you may think.
  • High-pitch whistle: You know that sound your tea kettle makes when it begins to boil? Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that particular high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite unpleasant.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing not a ringing. This buzzing can even sound like an insect or cicada.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus sounds. Frequently, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is often called a “tone”. Ringing is probably what the majority of people think about when they consider tinnitus.
  • 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 might sound like static. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static varies from person to person.

A person who is suffering from tinnitus could hear many possible noises and this list is hardly complete.

Change Over Time

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

The reason for the change isn’t really well known (mainly because the causes of tinnitus aren’t really well known).

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are typically two possible approaches to treating 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.

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.