Am I Hearing Tinnitus Noises?

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 in this way. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Rather, this specific hearing condition can make a veritable symphony of various noises. And that’s important to note.

Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand may be, such a restricted classification could make it difficult for some individuals to recognize their tinnitus symptoms. If Barb from down the road hears only crashing or whooshing in her ears, it may not even occur to her that tinnitus is to blame. So everyone, including Barb, will profit from having a better idea of what tinnitus can sound like.

A List of Noises You Might Hear With Tinnitus

Generally speaking, tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears. Sometimes, this is an actual noise (this is known as objective tinnitus). And at other times, it can be phantom noises in your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t actually exist and can’t be heard by others – that’s known as subjective tinnitus). The exact kind of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And you could possibly hear a number of different sounds:

  • Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a building project in their back yard. But for people who cope with tinnitus, this sound is commonly heard.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. Many people even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another prevalent tinnitus sound. It may sound calming at first, but the truth is that the sound is much more overwhelming than the gently rolling waves you may imagine.
  • High-pitch whistle: Picture the sound of a whistling tea kettle. That exact high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by those who have tinnitus. This one is undoubtedly rather unpleasant.
  • Ringing: We’ll begin with the most common sound, a ringing in the ears. This is often a high pitched ring or whine. Occasionally, this sound is even described as a “tone”. When the majority of people consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a distinct sound. Some people with tinnitus hear a similar sound when their tinnitus flares up.
  • Whooshing: Some individuals hear a whooshing noise triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a form of “objective tinnitus”. With this form of tinnitus, you’re basically hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Static: In some cases, your tinnitus might sound like static. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static varies from person to person.

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

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

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

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

Canceling Out Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will typically take two possible strategies: masking the noise or helping your brain figure out how to ignore the noise. 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.