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

That “buzzing and ringing” classification can make it hard for some people to decide if the sounds they’re hearing are really tinnitus symptoms. If Barb from down the road hears only whooshing or crashing in her ears, it might 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

Tinnitus is, generally, the sound of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this is an actual noise (this is called objective tinnitus). And at other times, it can be phantom sounds in your ears (which means that the noises can’t be heard by others and don’t really exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The exact type of sounds you hear will most likely depend on what type of tinnitus you have. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you may hear:

  • Screeching: Have you ever heard the sound of metal grinding? You might have heard this noise if you’ve ever been near a construction project. But it’s the type of sound that often comes up when a person is experiencing tinnitus.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most prevalent of the tinnitus sounds. Frequently, this is a high pitched whine or ring. Sometimes, this sound is even described as a “tone”. Ringing is probably what the majority of people think about when they contemplate tinnitus.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another prevalent tinnitus sound. Initially, this sound might not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overpowering.
  • Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus may sound like static. Some individuals hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a unique sound. Some individuals who have tinnitus hear a similar sound when their tinnitus flares up.
  • Whooshing: Frequently experienced by people who have objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing sound in the ears is often caused by circulation through blood vessels around the ear. With this form of tinnitus, you’re essentially hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing can even sound like an insect or cicada.
  • High-pitch whistle: You know that sound your tea kettle makes when it begins to boil? That specific high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by those who have tinnitus. Not surprisingly, this one can be quite unpleasant.

A person who is suffering from tinnitus may hear many potential noises and this list isn’t complete.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

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

It’s not well understood why this occurs (that’s because we still don’t really know what the root causes of tinnitus are).

Treating Tinnitus

There are usually two potential strategies to dealing with tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to dismiss the noise. 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.
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