A buzzing and ringing sound is what most individuals hear when they have tinnitus. But that classification, though useful, is dismally insufficient. Those two sounds are not the only ways tinnitus manifests. Rather, this specific hearing condition can make a veritable symphony of various sounds. And that’s important to note.
Because, as useful as that “ringing and buzzing” shorthand may be, such a restricted classification could make it difficult 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 a result of tinnitus. So having a more comprehensive notion of what tinnitus sounds like can be good for everyone, including Barb.
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 called objective tinnitus). And sometimes it’s a noise created 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 exact kind of sounds you hear will likely depend on what type of tinnitus you have. And you could potentially hear a number of different sounds:
- Whooshing: Some people hear a whooshing noise caused by blood circulation in and around the ears which is a kind of “objective tinnitus”. You’re essentially hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.
- Electric motor: Your vacuum cleaner has a rather distinct sound, mostly due to its electric motor. Some individuals who have tinnitus hear a similar noise when their tinnitus flares up.
- Ringing: A ringing in the ears is the most common of the tinnitus sounds. This is frequently a high pitched ring or whine. Sometimes, this sound is even described as a “tone”. When most individuals think of tinnitus, most of them think of this ringing.
- Buzzing: At times, it’s a buzzing rather than a ringing. This buzzing sometimes even sounds like an insect or cicada.
- High-pitch whistle: Picture the sound of a whistling tea kettle. Sometimes, tinnitus can sound like that specific high-pitched squeal. Needless to say, this one can be quite unpleasant.
- Static: The sound of static is another type of tinnitus noise. Whether that’s high energy or low energy static depends on the person and their distinct tinnitus.
- Roaring: This one is often described as “roaring waves”, or even simply “the ocean”. Initially, this sound might not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overpowering.
- Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? Maybe you hear it when your neighbors are working on a building project in their garage. But it’s the type of sound that often comes up when a person is experiencing tinnitus.
Someone who is suffering from tinnitus could hear lots of potential noises and this list is hardly complete.
Change Over Time
Someone with tinnitus can also experience more than one noise. Last week, as an example, Brandon was 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 like this – and it might change often.
It’s not well known why this happens (mainly because the causes of tinnitus aren’t always well understood).
There are generally two possible approaches to managing tinnitus symptoms: helping your brain learn to ignore the sound or masking the sound. And in either situation, that means helping you identify and familiarize yourself with the sounds of your tinnitus, whatever they may be.