What Can Tinnitus Sound Like? Sounds of Tinnitus Examples

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What Can Tinnitus Sound Like? Sounds of Tinnitus Examples

Tinnitus can differ for each person, and you might experience tinnitus as ringing, whistling, buzzing, humming or another sound altogether. As a condition, tinnitus is characterised as a persistent noise that originates from within one or both ears – it doesn’t always mean you hear the same noise or at the same frequency, pitch and intensity as somebody else.

If you’d like to hear for yourself the diverse ways tinnitus might sound, you can access a series of simulations via the Tinnitus UK website. It is often very useful for partners, family members and friends of tinnitus sufferers to listen to these resources so that they can appreciate the impact of tinnitus on their loved one and help with their treatment and symptom management.

Here at Regain Hearing, we place great emphasis on diagnosing and mapping the precise nature of your tinnitus because the tone of the sounds you hear may indicate an underlying cause or condition we can treat quickly or influence the customised therapies we recommend to provide relief.

what can tinnitus sound like

Key Takeaways

  • Varied Tinnitus Sounds: Tinnitus can manifest as a range of sounds such as ringing, whistling, buzzing, or humming, with each person experiencing different frequencies, pitches, and intensities. Listening to simulations on the Tinnitus UK website can help others understand the impact of tinnitus on sufferers.
  • Diagnosis and Underlying Causes: The perception of tinnitus varies due to differences in the structure and health of the inner ear, affecting nerve signals to the brain. Accurate diagnosis by audiologists is crucial, as the specific nature of tinnitus sounds can indicate underlying conditions that might be treatable.
  • Recognising Tinnitus Symptoms: Tinnitus may present as persistent internal noises, rhythmic pulsing, or sounds triggered by movement or external noise. If experiencing such symptoms, it is advisable to consult an audiologist for thorough testing and to explore potential treatments.

Why Is Tinnitus Perceived Differently By Sufferers?

There is much speculation and theory about why people suffer from tinnitus and hear alternative tones or sounds, but part of this may be linked to the structure and health of the inner ear—which could vary between two people, just as they might have varied bone structures.

Many specialists believe that when the inner ear becomes damaged, blocked or inflamed, this changes how our nerves communicate with our brains. Therefore, the signals produced by those nerves that stimulate the perception of a sound can vary significantly between two individuals.

While tinnitus is real and disruptive to the person, the sound it produces is a ‘phantom’ noise that doesn’t exist to anybody else. This provides valuable insight for us as audiologists, revealing that tinnitus is caused by the auditory cortex rather than your actual hearing.

It’s common to find that some people have persistent tinnitus that never seems to stop or quieten. Still, others have tinnitus that becomes worse at specific times of the day or occurs intermittently.

Clinical studies have found that tinnitus is often perceived as louder overnight, between midnight and 8 a.m., than at other times. This could also be attributed to the intrusive nature of tinnitus noises when a person is trying to sleep.

How Do I Know If I Am Suffering From Tinnitus?

The only way to be certain whether issues with your hearing are tinnitus is to book a consultation with a professional audiologist. However, the symptoms we are looking for include the following:

Persistent Noises Generating From Inside the Ear

As we’ve discovered, the ringing or buzzing in your ear can sound like a number of noises and is often reported to be like:

  • The buzz of fluorescent lighting
  • High-pitched whistling like a traditional kettle boiling
  • A whirring noise similar to a fan
  • Buzzing, like the chirping of crickets
  • A low-level rumble like a car engine
  • Invasive noises that sound like metal rubbing against metal

While tinnitus is a hearing condition, it is also a symptom of multiple medical conditions. It can be triggered by medications and might be a side effect of exposure to extremely loud noises or fairly loud noises over a prolonged period. If there is no known cause or medical condition that causes the sounds within your ear or both ears, an audiologist is likely to diagnose tinnitus.

At Regain Hearing, we only give Tinnitus consultations to patients that have experienced Tinnitus for more than 6 months to eliminate temporary causes.

Rhythmic Pulsing Inside Your Ears

Some clients hear a noise that feels like their own pulse and can be a whooshing or swishing sound in their ears or a pulsing sound in time with their heartbeat. Pulsatile tinnitus can potentially be linked to other health conditions, so it is usually something we’ll investigate swiftly to rule out any issues.

Although only around 4% of patients with tinnitus have pulsatile tinnitus, according to medical data, this can be due to issues with blood pressure or blood flow; hence the need to rule this out before treating the tinnitus.

Inner Ear Noises That Nobody Else Can Hear

Tinnitus is a phantom rather than an audible sound your ears are picking up. Therefore, if you can hear a muffled, frequent or persistent noise that isn’t audible to another person, this could possibly be tinnitus.

The noises created by tinnitus are subjective, and this may be why so many clients experience tinnitus differently—because the noises they hear are down to the way their brain perceives and interprets them.

On some occasions, pulsatile tinnitus can be heard by a third party if a physician or audiologist listens with a stethoscope.

Noise and Movement Triggered Tinnitus

Some people find that the sounds they hear within their ears change when they move or tense the muscles around their jaw, face, and head. This type of tinnitus is somatic and is commonly caused by jaw or muscle tension, dental disorders, or chronic stress that causes the person to grind their teeth or tense their jaw for long periods.

Another type of tinnitus is reactive and is stimulated by specific noises, which can be everyday sounds at a normally comfortable level. Less typical cases of reactive tinnitus are connected to a condition called hyperacusis, where people experience discomfort and even pain when listening to noises at a low decibel.

Tinnitus Treatments such as hearing protection can be used to treat reactive tinnitus, as can sound therapies tailored to the person to ensure they do not experience worsening symptoms.

What do our audiologists say?

Lindsay FletcherTinnitus can manifest in a variety of ways, from high-pitched ringing and whistling to low-level buzzing and humming. Some patients describe it as the buzz of fluorescent lighting, the whir of a fan, or even the chirping of crickets. Each sound signature provides valuable clues for tailoring effective treatment plans. — Lindsay Fletcher, (RHAD), (BSHAA), FdA, Company Director & Consultant Audiologist

When to Seek Professional Help With Tinnitus

If any of the symptoms or sounds described here are familiar, we recommend making an appointment with your nearest auditory specialist at one of the Regain Hearing clinics. While some tinnitus symptoms might dissipate naturally or fade in time, it is always worth having your ears tested and hearing checked to ensure there aren’t any underlying causes.

Taking note of your symptoms, when they occur, and in which environments can be useful. This can establish a pattern of symptoms and, along with thorough testing, make it easier to pinpoint the cause or recommend an effective programme of treatment.