A ringing or buzzing sound is what the majority of individuals hear when they suffer from tinnitus. But that description, though useful, is dismally inadequate. Those two noises are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. In fact, a wide array of sounds can be heard due to this condition. And that’s important to note.
Because, as useful as that “buzzing and ringing” shorthand may be, such a limited description could make it difficult for some people to recognize their tinnitus symptoms. It may not even occur to your friend Barb that the whooshing and crashing sounds in her ears are caused by tinnitus. So everyone, including Barb, will profit from having a better idea of what tinnitus can sound like.
A List of Noises You May Hear With Tinnitus
Tinnitus is, generally, the sense of noises in your ears. In some cases, this noise really exists (this is called objective tinnitus). And at other times, it can be phantom sounds in your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t really exist and isn’t heard by others – that’s known as subjective tinnitus). The variety of tinnitus you’re dealing with will likely (but not always) have an impact on the sound you hear. And you could possibly hear a lot of different noises:
- Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another typical tinnitus sound. Initially, this sound might not be very unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
- Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing sometimes even sounds like an insect or cicada.
- Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? You may have heard this noise if you’ve ever been near a construction project. But it’s the type of sound that often manifests when a person is experiencing tinnitus.
- Static: In some circumstances, your tinnitus might sound like static. Some individuals 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 noises. This is frequently a high pitched ring or whine. The ringing is often called a “tone”. When most individuals think of tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
- Whooshing: Frequently experienced by people who have objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing noise in the ears is often a result of circulation through blood vessels around the ear. You’re essentially hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
- High-pitch whistle: Image the sound of a boiling tea kettle. That specific high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by people with tinnitus. This one is undoubtedly rather unpleasant.
- Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a unique sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this exact sound.
This list is not complete, but it definitely starts to give you an idea of just how many possible sounds someone with tinnitus could hear.
Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change
Someone with tinnitus can also experience more than one sound. Last week, as an example, Brandon was hearing a ringing sound. Now, after going out to a loud restaurant with friends, he hears a static noise. Tinnitus sounds can and do change, sometimes regularly.
The reason for the change isn’t really well known (mainly because the causes of tinnitus aren’t really well understood).
Canceling Out Tinnitus
There are usually two potential strategies to treating tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to dismiss the noise. Whatever your tinnitus sounds might be, the first step is to identify and familiarize yourself with them.