Symptoms

While commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can actually manifest in a variety of different perceived sounds, both tonal and pulsing.

Manage Your Tinnitus

Discover the proven tools and therapies that can minimize the burden of your tinnitus and improve your quality of life.

In almost all cases, tinnitus is a subjective noise, meaning that only the person who has tinnitus can hear it. People describe hearing different sounds: ringing, hissing, static, crickets, screeching, whooshing, roaring, pulsing, ocean waves, buzzing, dial tones, even music.

In general, there are three ways to describe a patient’s personal perception of the tinnitus sound:

Tonal Tinnitus: The perception of near-continuous sound (or overlapping sounds) with well-defined frequencies. The perceived volume of the tinnitus often fluctuates. Tonal tinnitus is generally associated with subjective tinnitus.

Pulsatile Tinnitus: The perception of pulsing sounds, often in-beat with the patient’s heartbeat. Pulsatile tinnitus is often associated with objective and somatic tinnitus.

Musical Tinnitus: The perception of music or singing, sometimes the same tune on a constant loop. Also known as Musical Ear Syndrome, Musical Tinnitus is very rare.

There is some scientific evidence that a patient’s tonal perception of tinnitus is influenced by the etiology (the underlying cause) of their tinnitus. However, current science has not identified a definitive correlation.

Listen to Sample Tinnitus Sounds

ATA has compiled a playlist of the most common tinnitus sounds, to provide an example of what tinnitus patients hear on an everyday basis.  If you have tinnitus, you can use this playlist to find the sound that best matches your own condition. You can also share this resource with your primary care provider, audiologist, family, and friends, so they get a sense of the noise in your head.

Please Note: Turn down the volume on your speakers or headphones before playing any of the sound files. The recordings, like tinnitus itself, are can be quite loud and irritating.

Tinnitus Sound 1: 4000 Hz Tone


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ATA 4000 Hz Tone


Tinnitus Sound 2: 7500 Hz Tone


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ATA 7500 Hz Tone


Tinnitus Sound 3: Tea Kettle


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ATA Tea Kettle


Tinnitus Sound 4: Buzzing or Cicada


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ATA Buzzing or Cicada


Tinnitus Sound 5: Static


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ATA Static


Tinnitus Sound 6: Screeching


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ATA Screeching


Tinnitus Sound 7: Electric


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ATA Electric


Tinnitus Sound 8: Roaring


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ATA Roaring


Patient Stories

There are as many experiences of tinnitus as there are people. Learn about the various ways people manage their condition and take back their lives.

Tinnitus Research

ATA is one of the only organizations worldwide funding tinnitus research. Learn about ATA's innovative Roadmap to a Cure, and recently-funded studies.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

You have choices when it comes to tinnitus treatment. Learn about your options, including general wellness, sound therapy, behavioral therapies and more.