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What tinnitus sounds like

Most people describe tinnitus as “ringing in the ears”, but some people hear other sounds such as:

  • hissing
  • humming
  • buzzing
  • whooshing.

There may be a single sound or two or more, and the sound may be low, medium or high pitched. It may be there all the time, or come and go.

Many people get tinnitus for a short time – for example, after being exposed to loud music, or when they have congestion because of a cold. But for some people, it doesn’t go away.

This audio clip simulates what tinnitus might sound like to some people.

Warning: the audio clip may be unpleasant or triggering for people who have tinnitus.

Listen to what tinnitus could sound like (MP3, 03:21)

Rare types of tinnitus

For a small number of people, tinnitus is a rhythmical noise that may beat in time with the heart. This is called pulsatile tinnitus.

Occasionally, tinnitus can sound like fragments of tunes or songs. This is called musical hallucinations.

You can find out more about these rare types of tinnitus in our factsheets:

Pulsatile tinnitus (PDF, 362KB)

Musical hallucinations (PDF, 439KB)

Page last updated: 24 August 2023