Action on Hearing Loss Logo
    Total results:
    Search
      Total results:

      Signs of tinnitus

      Do you have ringing, buzzing, hissing or other sounds in your ears or head? The medical term for this is tinnitus.

      People experience tinnitus in different ways. Most people describe it as ‘ringing in the ears’, but you could hear sounds such as:

      • whistling
      • banging
      • buzzing
      • beeping
      • humming
      • roaring
      • whooshing.

      Or you might hear what sounds like a radio that isn’t tuned to a station (this is called ‘white noise’).

      There may be a single sound or two or more, and the sound may be low, medium or high-pitched.

      You may hear this sound in one ear, both ears or in your head, and it may be there all the time or come and go.

      Find out what causes tinnitus.

      Ringing ears after loud music

      Tinnitus can be linked to different things, including damage to the inner ear caused by exposure to loud noise.

      If you’ve got ringing in your ears or dulled hearing after exposure to loud noise – after a night out at a gig, for example – don’t ignore it. Although your hearing may recover within a few hours, it’s a sign that if you continue to be exposed to high levels of noise, your hearing could become permanently damaged.

      Noise-related tinnitus and hearing loss are completely avoidable if you protect your ears.

      Find out more about how loud music damages your hearing

      Signs of rare types of tinnitus

      Hearing other types of sound in your ears or head could be a sign of a rarer type of tinnitus:

      • Hearing fragments of tunes or songs when there’s no music being played could be a sign of a rare type of tinnitus called musical hallucinations.
      • Hearing a rhythmical or pulsing noise that usually beats in time with your heart could be pulsatile tinnitus. This rare type of tinnitus is usually related to a change in blood flow in the blood vessels in, or near, the ears, or increased awareness of that blood flow.


      Find out more in our factsheets Musical hallucinations and Pulsatile tinnitus.

      See your GP

      Always see your GP if you having ringing or any other sounds in your ears or head. Your GP will check for a cause that they could treat or, if necessary, refer you to a specialist for more tests and treatment.

      Find out more about seeing your GP.