What is Tinnitus

Tinnitus Is...

By definition, tinnitus is the perception of noise(s) in the head or ear, which have no external source.

Tinnitus is not a disease, or illness, it is a symptom which can be brought on by a mental or physical change, not necessarily related to hearing.

As it is the brain we hear with, it is not surprising that the brain is central to both the perception of and our reaction to the tinnitus signal. So the brain is also central to the successful management of tinnitus.
British Tinnitus Association

What Does it Sound Like?

Those reporting tinnitus symptoms can experience a variety of different noises, typically these sounds are described as ringing, whistling, hissing, buzzing or humming. These noises can come and go or they can become a permanent companion.

Below you can listen to a sample of several different tinnitus sounds, you may recognise one similar to your own.

Warning: please check volume levels before playing these sounds and be aware that they may be distressing.

Pulsatile Tinnitus

Pulsatile tinnitus is a rhythmical noise, which normally follows the same rate as the heart. Sometimes it can in a different rhythm to the heart.

Hallucinatory Tinnitus

In a small number of cases, people will experience recognisable musical sounds, or even complete tunes. Usually this occurs in older people, who also have a hearing loss and quite often have a strong musical interest.


Hyperacusis can have a life altering effect upon an individual and their family. Usually, those with hyperacusis will find everyday sounds intrusively loud, uncomfortable and sometimes painful.

Many find the noises distressing, often causing issues with concentration, sleep, communication etc. However, in most cases the intensity of your tinnitus will reduce in time. Many even begin to use their tinnitus as a stress indicator. When stressed, their tinnitus may become louder or more intrusive, meaning they may need to take more time to decompress.