Most individuals refer to tinnitus as a ringing or buzzing sound. But tinnitus can’t always be categorized in this way. Tinnitus doesn’t always occur in one of those two ways. Instead, this specific hearing ailment can make a veritable symphony of various sounds. And that’s important to note.
That “buzzing and ringing” description can make it difficult for some people to determine 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 may not even occur to her that tinnitus is to blame. So everyone, including Barb, will benefit from having a better concept of what tinnitus can sound like.
Tinnitus Might Cause You to Hear These Noises
Broadly speaking, tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears. In some cases, this noise actually exists (this is known as objective tinnitus). And in other situations, it can be phantom noises in your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t truly exist and can’t be heard by others – 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 you could potentially hear a lot of different noises:
- Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? Maybe you hear it when someone who lives near you is working on a building project in their back yard. But it’s the type of sound that often manifests when a person is experiencing tinnitus.
- Roaring: This one is often characterized as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. Initially, this sound may not be very unpleasant, but it can quickly become overpowering.
- Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a distinct sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some people, manifest this exact sound.
- Static: The sound of static is another kind of tinnitus noise. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static depends on the person and their distinct tinnitus.
- Whooshing: Some people 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 essentially hearing your own heartbeat.
- Buzzing: In some cases, 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.
- Ringing: We’ll begin with the most common sound, a ringing in the ears. Usually, this is a high pitched whine or ring. The ringing is often called a “tone”. Ringing is probably what the majority of people think about when they consider tinnitus.
- High-pitch whistle: Picture the sound of a whistling tea kettle. That exact high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by those who have tinnitus. Not surprisingly, this one can be quite annoying.
A person who is suffering from tinnitus might hear lots of potential noises and this list is hardly exhaustive.
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. He got together with friends at a noisy restaurant last night and is now hearing a loud static sound. It isn’t abnormal for the sound you hear from tinnitus to change in this way – and it might change often.
It’s not well understood why this happens (that’s because we still don’t really know what the underlying causes of tinnitus are).
There are usually two potential approaches to dealing with tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain figure out 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 might be.