Am I Hearing Tinnitus Noises?

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

A ringing or buzzing sound is what the majority of individuals hear when they have tinnitus. But that classification, though helpful, is woefully insufficient. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Actually, a large range of sounds can be heard due to this condition. And that’s a significant fact.

That “buzzing and ringing” description can make it hard 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 might 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 Sounds You May Hear With Tinnitus

Tinnitus is, generally, the sound of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this is a real noise (this is known as objective tinnitus). And sometimes it’s an artifact of your ears (which means that the sounds can’t be heard by others and don’t actually exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The variety of tinnitus you’re dealing with will probably (but not always) have an impact on the sound you hear. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you may hear:

  • High-pitch whistle: Picture the sound of a boiling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that specific high-pitched squeal. This one is undoubtedly quite unpleasant.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus noises. This is frequently a high pitched ring or whine. The ringing is often called a “tone”. When most individuals consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Buzzing: In some cases, it’s not ringing you hear, but a buzzing sound. Many people even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.
  • Whooshing: Some individuals hear a whooshing sound triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a type of “objective tinnitus”. With this kind of tinnitus, you’re essentially hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another common tinnitus sound. Initially, this sound might not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overpowering.
  • Static: The sound of static is another type of tinnitus noise. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static varies from person to person.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a unique sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this exact sound.
  • 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 back yard. But it’s the type of sound that often manifests when a person is experiencing tinnitus.

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

Change Over Time

It’s also entirely feasible for one person to hear a number of tinnitus-related sounds. Brandon, for example, spent the majority of last week hearing a ringing noise. Now, after eating at a loud restaurant with friends, he hears a static noise. Tinnitus noises can and do change, sometimes regularly.

The explanation for the change isn’t always well known (mainly because the causes of tinnitus aren’t always well understood).

Canceling Out Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will normally take two possible strategies: masking the noise or helping your brain figure out how to dismiss the noise. Whatever your tinnitus sounds might 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.