Are The Sounds You Hear Tinnitus?

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 suffer from tinnitus. But that classification, though helpful, is woefully insufficient. Tinnitus doesn’t always manifest in one of those two ways. In fact, a wide array of sounds can be heard due to this condition. And that’s important to note.

That “buzzing and ringing” classification can make it difficult for some people to determine if the sounds they’re hearing are actually tinnitus symptoms. It might not even occur to your friend Barb that the whooshing and crashing sounds in her ears are a result of tinnitus. So everyone, including Barb, will profit from having a stronger idea of what tinnitus can sound like.

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 sometimes it’s an artifact of your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t really exist and can’t be heard by others – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The type of tinnitus you’re coping with will probably (but not always) have an effect on the sound you hear. And you could possibly hear a lot of different sounds:

  • High-pitch whistle: You know that sound your tea kettle makes when it starts boiling? Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that particular high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite annoying.
  • Whooshing: Some individuals hear a whooshing noise triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a kind of “objective tinnitus”. You’re basically hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing can even sound like an insect or cicada.
  • Static: The sound of static is another kind of tinnitus noise. Some people hear a high intensity static and some hear a low intensity static.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most prevalent of the tinnitus sounds. Frequently, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is frequently called a “tone”. When the majority of individuals consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Screeching: Have you ever heard the sound of metal grinding? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a construction project in their garage. But for individuals who cope with tinnitus, this sound is frequently heard.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor inside of your vacuum has a unique sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this particular sound.
  • Roaring: This one is usually described as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. Initially, this sound may not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.

This list is not exhaustive, but it certainly starts to give you an idea of just how many possible sounds a person with tinnitus could hear.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

It’s also totally possible for one person to experience numerous tinnitus-related noises. Last week, for example, Brandon was hearing a ringing sound. Now, after going out to a loud restaurant with friends, he hears a static sound. It isn’t unusual for the sound you hear from tinnitus to change in this way – and it might change often.

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

Treating Tinnitus

There are usually two potential strategies to treating tinnitus symptoms: helping your brain understand how to dismiss 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.

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.