Hearing Associates of Libertyville, IL

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

Most people describe tinnitus as a ringing or buzzing sound. But that description, though useful, is dismally inadequate. Those two noises are not the only ways tinnitus occurs. Instead, this particular hearing disorder can make a veritable symphony of different noises. And that’s a substantial fact.

Because, as useful as that “buzzing and ringing” shorthand might be, such a limited classification 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 a result of tinnitus. So having a more comprehensive notion of what tinnitus sounds like can be positive for everyone, including Barb.

Tinnitus May Cause You to Hear These Noises

Tinnitus is, generally, 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 sounds in your ears (which means that the noises can’t be heard by others and don’t actually exist – that’s called subjective tinnitus). The specific kind of sounds you hear will most likely depend on what form of tinnitus you suffer from. And there are a lot of conceivable sounds you may hear:

  • Buzzing: At times, it’s not ringing you hear, but a buzzing noise. Many individuals even hear what sounds like cicada’s or a variety of other insects.
  • High-pitch whistle: Think about that sound your tea kettle makes when it starts boiling? That specific high pitched squealing is sometimes heard by people with tinnitus. This one is obviously rather distressing.
  • 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: The noise of roaring ocean waves is another common tinnitus sound. Initially, this sound may not be all that unpleasant, but it can quickly become overwhelming.
  • 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”. Ringing is probably what most people think about when they contemplate tinnitus.
  • Screeching: You know that sound of metal grinding? You may have heard this noise if you’ve ever been around a construction project. But for individuals who cope with tinnitus, this sound is commonly heard.
  • Electric motor: Your vacuum has a rather specific sound, in part because of 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 form of “objective tinnitus”. You’re basically hearing the sound of your own heart pumping blood.

Someone who has tinnitus might hear many possible noises and this list isn’t complete.

Change Over Time

It’s also totally possible for one individual to hear a number of tinnitus-related noises. Last week, for example, Brandon was hearing a ringing noise. He got together with friends at a loud restaurant last night and now he’s hearing a loud static noise. Tinnitus noises can and do change, sometimes regularly.

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

Treating Tinnitus

There are generally two potential approaches to managing tinnitus symptoms: masking the noise or helping your brain figure out how to ignore the noise. And in either situation, that means helping you identify and familiarize yourself with the sounds of your tinnitus, whatever they might be.

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