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

A ringing or buzzing sound is what most people hear when they have tinnitus. But tinnitus can’t always be classified like this. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Rather, this particular hearing disorder can make a veritable symphony of various sounds. And that’s a substantial fact.

That “ringing and buzzing” 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 crashing or whooshing in her ears, it might not even occur to her that tinnitus is to blame. So having a more thorough notion of what tinnitus sounds like can be good for everyone, including Barb.

Tinnitus Might Cause You to Hear These Sounds

Tinnitus is, generally, the sound of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this is an actual noise (this is known as objective tinnitus). And in other situations, it can be phantom sounds in your ears (which means that the sounds can’t be heard by others and don’t really exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The type of tinnitus you’re coping with will likely (but not always) have an effect on the sound you hear. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you could hear:

  • Whooshing: Some individuals hear a whooshing sound triggered by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a kind of “objective tinnitus”. With this form of tinnitus, you’re basically hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Static: The sound of static is another type of tinnitus noise. Some individuals hear a high intensity static and others hear a low intensity static.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most prevalent of the tinnitus noises. Usually, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is often called a “tone”. When most individuals think of tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing sometimes even sounds like an insect or cicada.
  • High-pitch whistle: Think about that sound your tea kettle makes when it starts boiling? Occasionally, tinnitus can sound like that particular high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite unpleasant.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor inside of your vacuum has a distinct sound. Some individuals with tinnitus hear a similar noise when their tinnitus flares up.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? Maybe you hear it when someone who lives near you is working on a construction project in their back yard. But it’s the type of sound that often manifests when someone is suffering from tinnitus.
  • Roaring: The sound of roaring ocean waves is another typical tinnitus sound. At first, this sound may not be very unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.

This list is not exhaustive, but it definitely begins to give you a notion of just how many potential sounds someone with tinnitus could hear.

Change Over Time

Someone with tinnitus can also experience more than one noise. Last week, for example, Brandon was hearing a ringing noise. He met up with friends at a loud restaurant last night and now he’s hearing a loud static sound. It isn’t uncommon for the sound you hear from tinnitus to change like this – and it may change often.

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

Treating Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will typically take two possible approaches: 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.

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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.