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

Most people refer to tinnitus as a ringing or buzzing sound. But tinnitus can’t always be classified like this. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. In fact, a huge array of sounds can be heard due to this condition. And that’s a substantial fact.

That “buzzing and ringing” classification can make it difficult for some people to determine if the sounds they’re hearing are actually tinnitus symptoms. If Barb from down the road hears only crashing or whooshing in her ears, it may not even occur to her that tinnitus is to blame. So having a more comprehensive understanding of what tinnitus sounds like can be good for everyone, including Barb.

Tinnitus May Cause You to Hear These Sounds

Tinnitus is, in general, the sense of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this is a real noise (this is called objective tinnitus). And at other times, it can be phantom noises 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 type of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And there are a lot of possible sounds you may hear:

  • Static: In some cases, your tinnitus may sound like static. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static depends on the person and their distinct tinnitus.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another common tinnitus sound. At first, this sound might not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
  • 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 obviously quite unpleasant.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus sounds. Frequently, this is a high pitched whine or ring. In some cases, this sound is even referred to as a “tone”. When most people consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum has a rather distinct sound, mostly due to its electric motor. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this exact sound.
  • Whooshing: Some people hear a whooshing noise 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.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing can even sound like an insect or cicada.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? You might have heard this noise if you’ve ever been near a construction site. But for individuals who experience tinnitus, this sound is commonly heard.

A person who has tinnitus might hear lots of possible noises and this list is hardly complete.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

Someone with tinnitus can also experience more than one sound. Brandon, for example, spent the majority of last week hearing a ringing sound. Now, after eating at a loud restaurant with friends, he hears a static noise. It isn’t abnormal for the noise you hear from tinnitus to change like this – and it may change often.

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

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are usually two possible strategies to treating tinnitus symptoms: helping your brain understand how to ignore the sound or masking the sound. 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.
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