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

A buzzing and ringing sound is what the majority of people hear when they have tinnitus. But tinnitus can’t always be classified like this. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. Actually, a large array of sounds can be heard as a result of this condition. And that’s important to note.

Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand may be, such a limited classification 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 caused by tinnitus. So having a more comprehensive notion of what tinnitus sounds like can be positive for everyone, including Barb.

Tinnitus Might Cause You to Hear These Sounds

Generally speaking, tinnitus is the sense of noise in the ears. Sometimes, this is a real noise (this is known as objective tinnitus). And at other times, it can be phantom sounds in your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t really exist and can’t be heard by others – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The exact type of sounds you hear will most likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you might hear:

  • Whooshing: Commonly experienced by individuals who have objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing sound in the ears is often caused by circulation through blood vessels around the ear. With this type of tinnitus, you’re essentially hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s not ringing you hear, but a buzzing sound. This buzzing can even sound like an insect or cicada.
  • High-pitch whistle: Image the sound of a whistling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can sound like that particular high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite annoying.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus noises. Frequently, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is frequently called a “tone”. Ringing is probably what most people think about when they consider tinnitus.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a construction project in their garage. But it’s the kind of sound that often manifests when a person is experiencing tinnitus.
  • Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus might sound like static. Some people hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.
  • Roaring: The sound of roaring ocean waves is another prevalent tinnitus sound. Initially, this sound might not be very unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor inside of your vacuum has a distinct sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this exact sound.

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

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

It’s also totally feasible for one person to hear a number of tinnitus-related noises. Brandon, for example, spent most of last week hearing a ringing sound. He met up with friends at a loud restaurant last night and is now hearing a loud static noise. Tinnitus noises can and do change, sometimes regularly.

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

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are generally two potential approaches to dealing with tinnitus symptoms: helping your brain understand how to ignore the sound or masking the sound. And in either case, that means helping you identify and familiarize yourself with the sounds of your tinnitus, whatever they may 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.