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

A ringing or buzzing sound is what most individuals hear when they suffer from tinnitus. But tinnitus can’t always be categorized in this way. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Rather, this particular hearing condition can make a veritable symphony of different sounds. And that’s a significant fact.

Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand might be, such a limited description could make it challenging for some individuals to recognize their tinnitus symptoms. It might not even occur to your friend Barb that the crashing and whooshing sounds in her ears are caused by tinnitus. So everybody, including Barb, will profit from having a better concept of what tinnitus can sound like.

Tinnitus May Cause You to Hear These Noises

Tinnitus is, generally, the sense of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this noise really exists (this is known as 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 actually exist – that’s known as subjective tinnitus). The type of tinnitus you’re coping with will probably (but not always) have an impact on the noise you hear. And you could potentially hear a lot of different noises:

  • 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: We’ll start with the most common sound, a ringing in the ears. This is frequently a high pitched ring or whine. The ringing is frequently called a “tone”. When most people consider tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • High-pitch whistle: Image the sound of a boiling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that specific high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite annoying.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum has a very distinct sound, in part because of its electric motor. Some people who have tinnitus hear a similar noise when their tinnitus flares up.
  • Whooshing: Frequently experienced by individuals with objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing noise in the ears is often a result of circulation through blood vessels around the ear. With this form of tinnitus, you’re essentially hearing your own heartbeat.
  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. Many individuals even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.
  • Roaring: This one is often characterized as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. It might sound calming at first, but the truth is that the sound is much more overwhelming than the gently lapping waves you might think.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? You might have heard this noise if you’ve ever been near a construction project. But it’s the type of sound that often comes up when someone is suffering from tinnitus.

This list is not complete, but it certainly begins to give you a picture of just how many potential sounds someone with tinnitus may hear.

Over Time Tinnitus Sounds Can Change

It’s also totally possible for one person to experience multiple tinnitus-related noises. Brandon, as an example, spent most of last week hearing a ringing noise. Now, after going out to a loud restaurant with friends, he hears a static sound. It isn’t uncommon for the sound you hear from tinnitus to change in this way – and it may change often.

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

Canceling Out Tinnitus

There are usually two possible strategies to dealing with tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain determine how to dismiss the noise. And in either situation, 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.
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