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

Most people describe tinnitus as a ringing or buzzing sound. But tinnitus can’t always be classified in this way. Those two noises are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. In fact, a wide array of sounds can be heard as a result of this condition. And that’s a substantial fact.

That “buzzing and ringing” description can make it hard for some people to decide if the sounds they’re hearing are genuinely 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 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

Broadly speaking, tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears. In some cases, this noise actually exists (this is called objective tinnitus). And at other times, 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 known as subjective tinnitus). The specific kind of sounds you hear will most likely depend on what form of tinnitus you have. And there are a lot of possible sounds you could hear:

  • Buzzing: Sometimes, it’s not ringing you hear, but a buzzing sound. Many people even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.
  • High-pitch whistle: Picture the sound of a boiling tea kettle. That specific high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by people with tinnitus. Not surprisingly, this one can be quite unpleasant.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a distinct sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this particular sound.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a construction project in their back yard. But it’s the kind of sound that often comes up when a person is suffering from tinnitus.
  • Roaring: This one is often characterized as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. Initially, this sound may not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
  • Static: The sound of static is another type of tinnitus noise. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static varies from person to person.
  • Ringing: We’ll begin with the most common noise, a ringing in the ears. This is often a high pitched ring or whine. The ringing is often called a “tone”. When most people consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Whooshing: Some people hear a whooshing sound caused by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a type of “objective tinnitus”. With this form of tinnitus, you’re essentially hearing your own heartbeat.

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

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

It’s also entirely feasible for one patient to experience a number of tinnitus-related sounds. Brandon, for example, spent most of last week hearing a ringing noise. He got together with friends at a loud restaurant last night and now he’s hearing a loud static sound. It isn’t uncommon for the noise you hear from tinnitus to change in this way – and it might change often.

The reason for the change isn’t always well understood (that’s because we still don’t really understand what the root causes of tinnitus are).

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are typically two possible approaches to managing tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to dismiss the noise. Whatever your tinnitus sounds may be, the first step is to identify and familiarize yourself with them.

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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.