What kind of tinnitus do you have?

I’ve heard people talking about tinnitus a lot on this forum, and I’ve never seen it defined in detail. I have experienced two very different kinds of tinnitus, and I’m wondering what others experience, and if there are other kinds than what I’ve experienced, and what treatments/adaptations have been effective for which kinds.

So my answer to this question is that I have two kinds of tinnitus, and maybe three.

  1. High pitched “pink” noise (white noise with a peak at high frequencies) in both ears all the time. Constantly. If I think about it, it’s deafening. It’s like the ringing in one’s ears after a concert. It’s louder than the cars outside my window, louder than the room fan right now, louder than freeway noise in the car with the windows rolled up. It’s usually about twice as loud as normal conversation. It gets worse after loud events, like movies or listening to loud music. It’s loud, interferes with speech intelligibility, but unless I think about it, my brain filters it out of my conscious experience.

  2. Occasional pure tones, accompanied by pretty complete loss of hearing, in a single ear. They usually last from 2 to 10 seconds, fade out, and baseline hearing returns.

  3. About 10 years ago, one case of pure tone tinnitus (as described above) lasted for 3 days. I was really scared, because it was totally distracting. But it started fading out at the end of the second day, and by the end of the 3rd it was gone.

Anyone else?

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I have never had your number 2 or 3.

Number 1 is 24/7 for me.

It started when I was about 22-25 years old when it became noticeable. It reminded me of the sounds locusts make in the summer evenings. Almost like a melody of very high frequencies winding up and down. These sounds were in the 100-120 dB range in my head so other ambient sounds in those frequencies I could not hear. As I have gotten older the tinnitus has steadily lowered it’s frequency while including the higher frequencies and become more consistent, less winding up and down. All these sounds are a steady tone now raging in my head. Do you remember the sound the TV made back when the show “Outer Limits” took control of your TV? kind of like that.

I have often thought if the tinnitus went away I could hear normal again. There were times I thought it would drive me crazy but after 40 years of it you learn to put it in its place.


White noise all the time, I have learned to put it to the back of my mine so I do not allow it to interfer with my life.

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White noise that resolves into a high pitch tone maybe of around 8khz with the white noise still there. 24/7. Sometimes I’ll get a lower tone that intrudes and then it goes away after some moments.
There was/is a site that has recordings of simulations of what some people experience for tinnitus. Some of these are rhythmic or non-constant. Wow. Makes me feel a little better that that’s not my experience. And lots of sympathy for those that do.

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My tinnitus started out in the 8K up area then later included lower frequencies. It now includes all frequencies from 2-3 thousand hertz up. This tinnitus is in the 120 dB range.

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Mine is similar to what @Raudrive has described (or @haggis no.1), i.e. a constant buzzing like locusts on a summer night. It doesn’t seem all that loud to me, so I cope just fine. Occasionally, when I’m really tired, it becomes louder and more pronounced. It stems from some medication I had to take in the 1990s for a while. Those meds initiated the tinnitus, and even though I’ve not been taking said meds for several decades, the cozy buzzing/humming remains an ever present companion.

The tinnitus “chirps” worried me a bit last week when I was taking an audiogram. Am I hearing an actual tone, or just the noises that live in my ears?

I’ll be interested to see if the new HAs I’m to get in 2½ weeks will have any affect on the tinnitus. Allegedly, some HAs are claimed to help with tinnitus.

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Mostly I think the therapies attempt to “mask” the tinnitus with other background sounds. Anyone tried therapies or mitigating features in the HA’s?

My pink-noise tinnitus is up around 80-90dB. My heart goes out to those who are at 120dB.

Unfortunately, my HA’s seem to have increased my tinnitus by a few dB. It’s the type that’s stimulated by loud, constant sound and the HA’s fit that bill. But It’s a tradeoff – I can hear conversation better and so far it seems like I’m winning the competition of hearing people better vs. making it worse.

I have had noise #1 (a perfect description) for about 35 years. I’m now 83. It came on initially from racing unmufflered motorcycles as near as I can tell. I describe it as sounding like a leaking air hose. I am now also (almost profoundly) deaf. Sadly, the tinnitus has not been affected by my hearing loss, and in fact it seems acerbated by it. I am truly thankful for the assist I get from my Resound Quatro aids. With the remote (smart phone) control offering total frequency, amplification and programming changing capabilities my quality of life is supported.
I can’t imagine getting by without them now.

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I have tried the Phonak tinnitus program with two sets of aids. This tinnitus program did not help my tinnitus. It actually disrupted my speech understanding. I may not have had it adjusted correctly but gave it a try.

What did the tinnitus program actually do?

Was it attempting to mask the tinnitus with another background sound? I don’t think it’s meant for use with conversation. I think it’s mostly intended to provide distraction when it’s quiet and the tinnitus would be more constantly bothersome. Or is it intended to be used in conversation or other active listening situations?

From what I could tell the background noise was always on. It could be adjusted for different frequencies and different dB. Didn’t play with it enough time really prove it out. When it messed with my speech recognition I turned it off.

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Number 2 for me, although I’ve had it last for as little as a minute or two or as long as a couple of hours. They are always varying tones, sometimes high and sometimes low, and varying volumes. I think I get more in my ‘bad’ ear but it is hard to tell as both get it fairly often, it is usually about every day or so with sometimes multiple occurrences in a day (a mix of different tones and ears.) and sometimes, rarely, it will be both ears at once. I always wonder if mine is related to just atmospheric pressure or humidity or something.

The longest I’ve had it continuously was for almost a week. It was after my second ever airplane ride (a 10hr flight) and my bad ear did not ‘pop’ afterwards for a week (though I tried everything, it was awful!) and was left feeling stuffed and with that loud ringing for that time.

I feel bad for those that live with it constantly, hopefully some day someone can find a way to give them true relief from it.

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Mine is a more or less constant high pitched noise, almost like white noise. Sometimes, I get a pure tone for a while, but it usually doesn’t last long. I think my damaged hair cells have their gain turned up to maximum trying to pick up sounds they no longer work at. It is like tuning a radio between stations and turning the volume wide open. It isn’t all that loud, and I have learned to live with it. It started somewhere in the mid seventies when I drove about seventy miles with the windows down. I didn’t notice any loud sounds, but when I arrived, it was there. It really bothered me for maybe a year. Then, I begin to grow accustomed to it. I recently listened to a presentation on Audiology Online about treatment and it was mostly about behavior modification with the goal of making tinnitus less bothersome. The presenter said there is no medical treatment for it.


I’ve had the same tinnitus since 14, when I had a bad ear infection treated by Coriciden. I have a constant TONE in my ears (wish I knew where it was on a piano keyboard!) 24x7. I’m really only aware of it when the aids are OUT and no other sound competes with it.

I have a built-in “weather vane” with my tinnitus: every time the pressure changes my ears let me know about a day or two before the weather changes! It’s accurate about 90% of the time - no accounting for the times when it doesn’t kick in. Pressure change tinnitus for me differs for RAIN vs HEAT! (Does this sound like Bill Nye the Science Guy yet?!) Prior to RAIN, my ears will go “wooo-wooo-WOOO-wooo” off and on throughout the day. When a HEAT wave is coming, one of the ears will be like a hammer blow: BONG! BONG! bong-bong-bong-bong-BONG! throughout the day.

It’s annoying as heck but at least I can predict the weather with reasonable accuracy and make my tinnitus seem like a good thing. :upside_down_face:


My tinnitus was first noticeable at about age 50. Besides the nearly-constant background noise that occasionally got louder I noticed distortion in my hearing, especially when listening to a Bruckner symphony at a concert (lots of brass).

At about age 60, my doctor talked me into seeing an audiologist. As I was walking into the building for the test, a noisy ventilation fan “switched” the tinnitus to a much higher level in one ear. Naturally, I did very poorly in the test and the audiologist insisted I get an MRI scan to check for a tumor. My wife kidded me that they found “nothing.”

My hearing got much worse at age 67 when I had chemo for leukemia and I got hearing aids a few months later. I still have the tinnitus but I’m used to it now. But the hearing distortion is worse – sounds like everyone is speaking from the bottom of a barrel.

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You’re the second person I’ve heard on this forum that’s talked about distortion in sound. That must be really difficult because it doesn’t sound like the medical/audiology fields are prepared to deal with distortion at all.

I really feel for you, Fred.

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My tinnitus is 24x7, pure tone. When it started, I can’t recall, but for as long as I remember, it’s been an ongoing thing. The tone is at 4kHz without fail all of the time, although every so often, there are a few variances that occur, up or down in frequency. As to volume, that I couldn’t say, but I would say it is similar to the average volume of a conversation.

As others have asked/postulated, with tinnitus affecting a hearing test, for myself, yes. Hearing tests for me are difficult unless there is a warble or beep rather than a steady tone. From my posted audiogram from 2018 which was done with a steady tone, this past year with the warble/beeps used for the hearing test, I believe I was told I had a 5db improvement in hearing from 4kHz-8kHz. Not so much an ‘improvement’ but that I was able to better recognize that the tone was there rather than a phantom tone from my tinnitus.

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I also have tinnitus in my R ear. I developed this suddenly when I lost my hearing in that ear 3 years ago. How can I describe it, I described to my surgeon (he’s my age old :joy:) as kids we had these tin frog clickers that we pressed together, that made a clicking sound. Some of the older folk might remember these tin clickers. Gosh we had fun with these in class at school.

But since my CI my tinnitus has greatly improved, I can barely hear it at all. For which I’m extremely grateful. Not that it was ever bothersome before though.

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That is interesting that the ventilation fan had such an immediate and permanent effect on your hearing. It’s got to be a brain/ear kind of thing.

I had to chuckle about your not doing well on the hearing test. I have a running joke with my aud-guy when he conducts the TONE test on me. He knows about my tinnitus, and I always preface the test by saying, “You know I’m gonna FAIL this one, right?” I do a little better when the hearing test tones are warbled and not just a pure tone. Is that cheating tho? :shushing_face:

The effect was NOT permanent. It lasted an hour or so but by then the hearing test was long over. But the “normal” tinnitus is permanent.