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

A buzzing and ringing sound is what the majority of individuals hear when they suffer from tinnitus. But tinnitus can’t always be categorized in this way. Tinnitus doesn’t always show up in one of those two ways. Rather, this specific hearing disorder can make a veritable symphony of various noises. And that’s important to note.

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

Tinnitus Might Cause You to Hear These Noises

Tinnitus is, in general, the sense of noises in your ears. Sometimes, this noise actually exists (this is known as objective tinnitus). And in other situations, it can be phantom sounds in your ears (that is, the sound doesn’t actually exist and can’t be heard by others – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The exact type of sounds you hear will likely depend on what form of tinnitus you have. And there are a lot of possible sounds you could hear:

  • Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing not a ringing. Many people even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.
  • Whooshing: Frequently experienced by individuals who have objective tinnitus, a rhythmic whooshing noise in the ears is often caused by circulation through blood vessels around the ear. With this type of tinnitus, you’re essentially hearing your own heartbeat.
  • High-pitch whistle: Think about that sound your tea kettle makes when it begins to boil? Sometimes, tinnitus can cause you to hear that particular high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite annoying.
  • Electric motor: The electric motor in your vacuum has a unique sound. Tinnitus flare-up’s, for some individuals, manifest this exact sound.
  • 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.
  • Roaring: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another common tinnitus sound. Initially, this sound might not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overpowering.
  • Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most prevalent of the tinnitus sounds. Usually, this is a high pitched whine or ring. Occasionally, this sound is even referred to as a “tone”. When most people think of tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of grinding metal? You may have heard this sound if you’ve ever been around a construction site. But for individuals who cope with tinnitus, this sound is commonly heard.

This list is not exhaustive, but it definitely begins to give you an idea of just how many potential sounds someone with tinnitus may hear.

Change Over Time

It’s also totally feasible for one individual to hear numerous tinnitus-related noises. Last week, for instance, Brandon was hearing a ringing sound. He met up with friends at a loud restaurant last night and now he’s hearing a loud static noise. It isn’t unusual for the sound you hear from tinnitus to change in this way – and it might change frequently.

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

Treating Tinnitus

Tinnitus treatments will normally take two possible strategies: helping your brain learn to dismiss 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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