That Weird ringing that happens in one ear sometimes..huh?

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That Weird ringing that happens in one ear sometimes..huh?

Postby L0n3 on December 12th, 2006, 12:50 pm 

I know this has most likely happened to everyone at one point or another.

It is sort of hard to describe.

It begins as an extremely high pitched whine or ring (like a tuning fork) which increases in intensity as all other sounds are numbed usually in just one ear. sounds return as the feeling passes.
This phenomenon does not happen regularly, or frequently, or under any particular condition that I have noticed. (about the same frequency and randomness as deja vu)

My friends and I always joked about it being "aliens" trying to communicate with us, but that's probably not what it is.

Does anyone have any idea what the cause of this could be?

biological?
some kind of EM ratiation?

Who knows... It's fun to think about.

(I hope I'm not being too confusing or anything..)
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Postby BioWizard on December 12th, 2006, 2:19 pm 

I think it's pressure build up escaping from the inner ear. Sometimes it can also be due to a thumbing blood vessel near the ear drum.
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Postby L0n3 on December 12th, 2006, 4:44 pm 

thumbing?

what's that...is it like throbbing?
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Postby jshort on December 12th, 2006, 9:36 pm 

I know just what your talking about, and I am 100 percent confident it has to to with hearing electronic frequezies traveling in the air.
Usually when this happens there will be some electronic device somewhere that is turned on, like the TV or something.

However I think you can only hear it, if the frequency is right.
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Postby BioWizard on December 12th, 2006, 10:40 pm 

The medline entry for tinnitus:

Reference URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency ... 003043.htm

Alternative names

Ringing in the ears; Tinnitus; Noises or buzzing in the ears
Definition

Tinnitus is the medical term for "hearing" noises in your ears when there is no outside source of the sounds. The noises you hear can be soft or loud. They may sound like ringing, blowing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, humming, whistling, or sizzling. You may even think you are hearing air escaping, water running, the inside of a seashell, or musical notes.

Considerations

Tinnitus is common. Almost everyone experiences a mild form of tinnitus once in awhile that only lasts a few minutes. However, constant or recurring tinnitus is stressful and can interfere with your ability to concentrate or sleep.

Common Causes

It is not known exactly what causes a person to "hear" sounds with no outside source of the noise. However, tinnitus can be a symptom of almost any ear problem, including ear infections, foreign objects or wax in the ear, and injury from loud noises. Alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics, aspirin, or other drugs can also cause ear noises.

Tinnitus may occur with hearing loss. Occasionally, it is a sign of high blood pressure, an allergy, or anemia. Rarely, tinnitus is a sign of a serious problem like a tumor or aneurysm.

Home Care

Tinnitus can be masked by competing sounds, such as low-level music, ticking clocks, or other noises. Tinnitus is often more noticeable when you go to bed at night because your surroundings are quieter. Any noise in the room, like a humidifier, white noise machine, or dishwasher, can help mask tinnitus and make it less irritating.
Learn ways to relax. Feeling stressed or anxious can worsen tinnitus.
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.
Get enough rest. Try sleeping with your head propped up in an elevated position. This lessens head congestion and noises may become less noticeable.
Call your health care provider if

Call your doctor if:

Ear noises start after a head injury.
The noises are associated with other unexplained symptoms like dizziness, feeling off balance, nausea, or vomiting.
You have unexplained ear noises that bother you even after self-help measures.
What to expect at your health care provider's office op

The health care provider will perform a physical examination, including a detailed ear examination. The provider ask questions such as:

What does the sound resemble?
Is the sound throbbing or rhythmic?
Is it in one or both ears?
What other symptoms are also present?
The following diagnostic tests may be performed:
Audiology/audiometry to test hearing loss
Head CT scan
Head MRI scan
Blood vessel studies (angiography)
X-rays of the head
TREATMENT

Usually, there is no known cure for tinnitus. If the underlying cause is determined, then fixing that problem may take away your tinnitus (for example, removal of ear wax). Otherwise, measures to help you lessen or live with the noises are taken.

A tinnitus masker, a device worn like a hearing aid, may help. This works by producing low-level sound directly into the ear to cover or disguise the ear noise so that it is less bothersome. A hearing aid may help lessen ear noise and amplify outside sounds.

Medications such as anti-arrhythmics (usually used for irregular heart rhythms), antidepressants, vasodilators, tranquilizers, and anticonvulsants may help. Antihistamines (e.g., meclizine) are also often effective.

Sometimes, counseling may help you learn to tolerate tinnitus. When appropriate, you may be encouraged to consider biofeedback training. This is a method that helps you learn to control body functions by monitoring specific responses (such as tightness of a muscle group) and altering this response through relaxation.

The American Tinnitus Association is a good resource center and support group.

Prevention

Wear ear protection in any situations where ear damage is possible (such as loud concerts or jackhammers). If you have hearing loss, avoid further damage to your hearing by avoiding excessive noise.

Make sure your blood pressure is normal by maintaining proper body weight, exercising regularly, and seeing your doctor for yearly check ups.

References

Heller AJ. Classification and epidemiology of tinnitus. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2003; 36(2): 239-248.

Sismanis A. Tinnitus. Advances in evaluation and management. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. 2003; 36(2): xi-xii.
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Postby jshort on December 13th, 2006, 1:36 am 

Yes BioWizard, I think I know what your talking about. I remember a few years back, a friend of mine fired a shotgun standing right next to me. It was so loud that the ringing in my ears wouldn't stop for several minutes.

Is there a medical term for the other description that I have mentioned, when rather instead of experiencing some form of Tinnitus (which your post said that everyone experiences once in a while) you are just hearing radio or other electrical frequencies in the air. I havn't been able to find out what this is called (and Im wondering if its even recognized by medical science), however I know its true because very often I can tell when my television or radio is on even if there is no sound or picture (although I almost allways have to be in a quite environment in order to hear it). One time there was something wrong with my computer and my brother and I were getting real irritated by the constant freqency sounds (assuming this is what it is) it was making so we turned the power.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. If not then try going to bed with the TV on with no picture or sound and you'll find that after 30 minutes or so you can hear the ringing sound it makes (note that I'm not talking about white noise, as this is something else).
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Postby BioWizard on December 13th, 2006, 1:39 am 

The ear cannot pick up EM. The ringing sound is actually caused by the TV itself, and not by your ears picking up any EM field.
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Postby jshort on December 13th, 2006, 2:03 am 

Oh yeah. The ear only picks up physical vibrations in the air doesn't it. And clearly electrical frequencies aren't physical waves but are EM waves. I guess maybe then it is some kind of white noise that just sounds a little different then (or maybe I have a mild form of Tinnitus) . Sorry for wasting your time. I actually knew this, but sometimes I forget to think and just start typing away.
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Postby L0n3 on December 13th, 2006, 2:08 am 

yeah, I know what you are talking about with the TV noise.

I think in that case it is just a really high pitched sound made by some part of the TV.

sometimes I can hear lights buzzing (the flourescent tube kind) and it drives me nuts!!

I think some peoples ears are more sensitive to differnt pitches of sound than others'.

I always keep the trebel bar of my car radio turned way down because if it is even midway the pich gets on my nerves.


Oooh! I just thought of something else, another weird sound that I don't know what the cause for is.

That peculiar sound made by speakers, or any electronic sound producing device when a cell phone rings in the vicinity, or is even near it.

What could That be?... should we worry about cell phone waves... (O.o)
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Postby Lincoln on December 13th, 2006, 8:35 am 

The sound you hear near electrical devices is (in the US) a 60 Hz hum. Typically it comes from the power supply. The power from the wall oscillates at 60 Hz, and goes into a transformer, in which one has varying magnetic fields. This, in turn, changes the forces on the iron in the transformer, causing it to distort and relax with a 60 Hz frequency. Because of how things vibrate, you can get harmonics too...but if you put a spectrum analyzer on the sound, you'll find it is dominantly 60 Hz, with some harmonics.

If you think about it, the EM frequencies are in the hundreds of kilohertz or megahertz. Since the human ear in a baby doesn't hear above about 20 kHz (and lower the older you get), this electromagnetic stuff can't be the source, except in a roundabout way as described above.

And that is besides the obvious stuff in earlier posts having to do with the fact that the noise detection mechanisms in the ear only detect vibrations, predominantly in the air. No antennas in my ear. Besides, I wear tin foil inside my baseball cap to shield me from the government's persistent and pernicious transmissions.

Tinnitus (which I have whenever it is quiet and it gets worse the older I get) is not externally derived and Bio's post covers some of the important bits. One funny story about it. I have an excellent old-style component stereo (the kind that cost thousands of dollars 20 years ago). The receiver/amplifier finally went on the fritz...one of the power transisters in the speaker-driving circuit started acting up and it put a continuous moderate to high frequency noise on one speaker channel. I was putzing around with the circuitry, trying to remove the noise. Fixing it took a while, but finally I identified the defective part. So I made sure it was quiet and tried to listen for any additional hiss out of the speaker. There remained a high pitch whine that I couldn't get rid of, nor could I see it on an oscilloscope. It was ten minutes before I realized it was just tinnitus.

I still haven't figured out what transistors I need to replace in my ears....
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Postby L0n3 on December 13th, 2006, 10:55 am 

(^_^) Oh my!

That Is a funny story about tinnitus...

Thank you, Lincoln, for the description of transformer function, my best freind and I were just recently listening (for some odd reason...) to the big box transformers on our respective laptop chords. Hers made a high pitched whine and some other kind of sound depending on if it was plugged into the computer or not. My sister's was similar but a slightly different sound, Mine... didn't make any noise...(I think it has been broken for a while...(;_;) since the battery won't charge even when I plug it in *******

Ooooh! so its my CHORD !!!! not my battery! oh all this time I thought it must be the battery that needed to be replaced.. (I'll have to ...

wait.. the chord Works... the computer works when I have it plugged in (ie the power gets to it...) would charging the battery require a different function of the transformer...(maybe I'll borrow my sisters old chord and see if that makes any difference...)

Whoops! tangent!...sorry

I'm still wondering about that cell phone induced buzz...
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Postby Lincoln on December 13th, 2006, 11:53 am 

I've never heard a cell phone do what you say. But then again, I don't have a cell phone.

Here's some informed speculation, it is especially true for radios.

All transmitters and receivers are tuned to a particular frequency. When my wife listens to FM 93.1, this means she is listening to a radio station that is emitting predominantly 93.1 MHz radio waves. On the other hand, no matter how well the radio engineers do, they emit other frequencies as well...just not nearly as much of them.

Similarly, a radio receiver is tuned to preferentially accept a particular frequency (well actually a couple of frequencies, due to things called sidebands and stuff, but let's ignore that as something for engineers and physics wonks, besides that's more for AM). On the other hand, the receiver will allow small amounts of other frequencies to enter the system.

Now let's do some simple numbers. The particular radio station described above (93.1) emits 6,700 Watts of energy. It is about 30 miles away. Cell phones emit about 1 Watt, but they are a few feet away. Since the amount of power that actually gets to the circuits goes as one over the radius squared, the power from the radio station is 0.0003% that of a cell phone.

Even though the cell phone is emitting about 400,000 times as much energy as far as the radio is concerned as compared to the radio station, it is usually emitting at a different frequency (either near 850 MHz or 1850 MHz). Nonetheless, a tiny bit of dribble of energy is usually enough to swamp the receiver, because there is so much more apparent energy with which to begin.

Think about what your car radio does when you drive under the (60 Hz) power lines...
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Postby dutchclover on December 13th, 2006, 6:30 pm 

I have experienced both. I am old enough to have to deal with tinnitus and that occasional more pure tone one gets in one ear or another. They are not the same. tinnitus is much more continuous. The latter doesn't last more than a few seconds and is much more isolating of background sounds. I do not think the later is related to electrical systems. That is simply a bias and an indication of how much time we spend around electrical devices that do have noises, so we blame them. I have had the latter tone in rural and isolated areas as well.
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Postby NYCFalcon on December 14th, 2006, 7:59 pm 

Ah yes, that high pitched squeal like an old sci-fi movie version of not being able to communicate with the ship or homeworld. It lasts for a second or two and occurs infrequently and for no apparent external reasons.

I wonder if that is degree of tinnitus or something else? I always thought tinnitus was the product of damage because of loud noises; that constant, low ssshhhhhhhhhh sound you hear for a day after coming out of a concert or dance club/party or as in a previous example a shotgun blast, but then it's more like SSSHHHHHssshhhhhSSSSHHHHHssshhhh...

I made up my own reason for it: and imbalance in minerals and mild dehydration. It works for me. BTW, I'm one of those people whose cure-all is "drink more water." I tell people to take me with a grain of salt... har har.
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Postby Damien on June 26th, 2007, 12:37 am 

yes, this sounds like what I have (pardon the pun, i couldn't resist). it may interest you to know that I seem to be able to "turn on" the sound at will. although what I hear is similar, mine has layered sounds of different tones, notes, and frequencies; each one is added on as I concentrate on the sound harder and it becomes progressively louder. I always fancied thinking it was the sound my own hearing sensory neurons made when they produced themselves recursively.
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Postby goingtothedogs on June 26th, 2007, 12:50 pm 

I occasionally suffer from tinnitus myself. I am partially deaf (my mother had rubella when she was carrying me) and the "ringing in the ears" is just something you have to learn to live with. Mine is not particularly bothersome. I can only sympathise with anyone who has it badly.

However, there's a local tale from quite some years ago, about a chap that started complaining of stranges noises. Everyone was sypathetic until he started saying that what he was hearing was not just noices, but actual voices; and not just voices but our "Radio 4". His friends started casually suggesting that it was time to visit the doctor.

He did so under protest. The doctor listened to his tale and started suggesting treatment along psychiatric lines. The afflicted protested that he was not going nuts and he could prove it..... would the doc please put his stethascope to his head.

Attempting to humour him, the doctor put his stethascope to his head and he could hear voices, and low and behold, Radio 4!!

It turned out that a couple of weeks before, he'd gone to the dentist and had a new filling. The filling, by some fluke, managed to resonate to the Radio 4 frequency and give him his own, intensely private, Radio station
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Postby Glen on July 16th, 2007, 10:56 pm 

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Postby Den on July 26th, 2007, 10:32 pm 

going - I use to think that I couldn't blame my tinnitus on anything but years spent working for the airlines without hearing protection back in the 70's - or loud music during the same decade ...

But your post reminded me that after I had rubella (and ordinary measles and chicken pox - those were the days when children were sent round to friends that were in the infectious stage so we could catch it and get it over with) I distinctly remember months of hearing morse code-like beeps when I was trying to get to sleep. I also had quite a few fillings as well so - who knows?

However, I was a very strange child.

I only discovered that I had tinnitus when we visited a local tourist attraction here in New Zealand called Doubtful Sound - aka "The Sound Of Silence". We set out in the boat, engines were turned off, nothing in hearing - no birds - just total silence ... except for this amazing ringing in my ears which varied from an almost-beyond-hearing high-pitched whine to the sound of jets warming up prior to take-off.

The trouble with just about all the cures for most ailments these days is that they seem to involve giving up Alcohol and Caffeine as a first step - which is a good way to decide just how troublesome the ailment really is ...
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