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June 29th, 2011
07:24 AM ET

How can I stop this high-pitched noise?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Wednesdays, it's Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society.

Question asked by Alex from Bulgaria

Two weeks ago I began having a really disturbing sound in my ears. The noise is constant, with high frequency. I can hear it almost all the time, especially in the mornings. Why is this happening? I have not had any accidents. What can I do about it?

Expert answer:

I believe what you are describing is called tinnitus.

It is a sound that can be a buzzing, ringing, hissing or other noise. It is perceived as a sound near the head or within one or both ears. The sound can be continuous, pulsating or intermittent.

It is estimated that one out of every six people experience tinnitus for a prolonged period at some time during his or her life. Most are older.

A quarter of those experiencing it have such severe tinnitus that it affects their daily activities.

A general practice physician might refer the patient with tinnitus to an otolaryngologist (a doctor specializing in diseases of the ears, nose and throat). The physician will interview the patient, taking a history of the symptoms, getting a description of the noise and do a complete head and neck examination, with emphasis on the nerves of the head and neck (cranial nerves).

The patient should also have a hearing evaluation. Other tests are often warranted, depending on the circumstances.

In the discussion, the physician will be looking for a history of noise exposure or a head injury that could have caused inner ear injury.

Symptoms suggesting jaw problems (tempromandibular joint, or TMJ), hypertension, atherosclerosis or neurologic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis are pertinent, because they can cause tinnitus.

A review of the patient's drugs and supplements also is necessary. Aspirin, other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, anti-hypertensives and anti-depressants are among the more than 20 common drugs that can cause tinnitus.

When tinnitus is pulsing, rushing, flowing or humming, a vascular problem should be suspected. This can be a constriction of blood flow in an artery.

Vascular-based tinnitus often changes intensity or pitch with changes in head motion or body position (lying, sitting, or standing).

Clicking tinnitus is commonly due to drugs or problems in the middle ear. A high-pitched continuous tone is commonly the result of a nerve or inner ear injury. Treatment is aimed at fixing the underlying abnormality, when it can be identified.

Cochlear (inner ear) implants can benefit some patients with severe inner ear nerve damage and hearing loss. Vascular abnormalities can be fixed surgically.

Medical treatments for this condition, other than removing a drug that causes tinnitus, have limited effectiveness.

For many the goal should be to lessen awareness and impact on quality of life. Biofeedback and cognitive behavior therapy may be useful.


soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Michael

    I'm 16 and I've had a ringing in my left ear for about a week, I have to study i have 2 AP classes and drivers ed this is driving me insane it gets louder and more steady every day
    I havent slept in 3 days!!! is there any chance at all of this going away or do I have to deal with it until i do something???

    August 5, 2012 at 03:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Neal

    Had that for about a year believe goverment are testing out a weapon mind weopon done with sound high frequency that has faint voice in different speeds of pulse causes headache stand up straight when there using it believe trying to do all the world also found head goes numb tingling on the head belive might be using microwaves same as the old system but broadcast through towers goverment are using game as a cover over here. Alot people doing hand moves with the game and when watch tv

    August 6, 2012 at 19:42 | Report abuse | Reply
    • james

      only person to really answer my question. just walking up to my house when i stopped to really notice this noise. stood there for 15 min never did it go away until i walked into my house. i recorded it on my cell and i can hear it in the recording. its kinda nice for awhile. if you enjoy meditation.

      November 3, 2013 at 03:10 | Report abuse |
    • Jaleel Johanson

      The government must have developed a new weapon that can penetrate a tinfoil hat then? lol

      February 4, 2015 at 08:34 | Report abuse |
  3. Paul Avetta

    I, have had this for a long time, but it was like cricket,s or loud locusts..Left ear popped all the time. DR, gave me nose spray, it went a way [short time] came back ear looked alright,she said.......Just had,cervical fusion in neck, 1 month ago, seeing the DR this coming Wednesday, The noise now is like a shrill, or high pitch radio waves dog whistle ETC

    September 23, 2012 at 11:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Paul Crown

    I also have the high pitch buzz tone in both ears, it comes and goes. I notice it when it starts but it fades away slowly and I do not notice when it goes. I have noticed that mine starts during the day when I am up ( usually working at my desk ) about 4 to 6 hours after I wake up. I have had neck alingment problems for years. I think this might be part of the issue. I use a tecknique that I got from a baby to put the natural curve back in my neck. when I go to bed I lay on my side and look up / tilt my head back and I try to fall asleep in this position. even if you don't stay like this all night you will wake up feeling great.
    I don't know if this is the answer but it has worked for me many times.

    October 6, 2012 at 18:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. marier

    In the case of my supposed tinnitis it is caused by those who wish to hurt me. They have speakers in their autos pointed to my home that increase the piercing sound. Through, I think compression, they use a computer to point the sound to the person they wish to receive the sound. Ask a physicist how this happens, It sounds bizarre investors are taking over our neighborhood, and they want my property. I had not had the problem until a family of gang members moved in. I have heard them speak about the procedure. The large speakers are in a car parked nearby This car stays outside across from my home all the time.

    November 13, 2012 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Doc

    Marier. Try wearing a tinfoil hat.

    December 29, 2012 at 05:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Doug

    I have been experiencing symptoms like the ones described above. Sometimes I hear a high pitched tone but most often I hear a hissing like sound. Ttinnitus is a possibility. I also am a hydrocephalus patient. I have a shunt with several revisions over the years. My last revision was 7 years ago. I have not had a symptom like this related to my hydrocephalus. I would appreciate any input from people that have had similar experiences.

    January 8, 2013 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ercillor

      Doug,
      Your 'Tinnitus' (by definition) may be keeping time with your heartbeat (pulse) . If so it is called 'Pulcatile Tinnitus' and must be looked at in order to rule out a serious heart valve condition known as 'Aortic Stenosis.'
      See a highly experienced physician - preferably a cardiologist - as soon as you can.
      Goodluck,
      ercillor

      May 21, 2014 at 17:29 | Report abuse |
  8. Space Time

    For some people, this pitch is related to your rise in vibration. As Earth enters higher frequencies, some people will be able to hear this higher pitch. Your body, ears and brain will begin to adjust. It will take some time for each person. Once you can flow with the higher frequencies, you become almost crystallized, you shift to the next octave. You may feel a pulsing within your brain, it too is responding to the higher frequencies entering your body. This is for those who have locked into the frequencies of the new Earth. You need to be aligned, in balance mentally, physically and spiritually or else you will create imbalance. Your entire being is transitioning, into something new and it will require adjusting. What you will become will be unique to each person. Flow with the inner knowing rather than freak and create more dis-ease. Again, this is for those who have locked in to the higher frequencies of the new Earth.

    January 23, 2013 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lauren

      Was curious and decided to look online for posts that reflect other than the obvious medical conditions or electronically created noise. Thank you for your post....you have verified what I have thought and felt has been happening for sometime.

      January 7, 2016 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
  9. Kind Sirs

    I have tinnitus. I have deduced it is a cheap and effective way to food poison your life considering you have it you must be an intellectual that the government does not want you to speak your point of view about their conspiracy to control your life.

    Depending on how much poisons they gave to you while you ate your paid for food is how long your tinnitus will take. Exercise does not necessarily help pass the poison through your system because of where the poison resides is actually in the hairs of your inner ear. You will need to wait it out. You can seek medical help but they will only give you moderate attention if you have lots of money. In the end you will just have to wait like everyone else does. Hopefully it doesn't drive you mad enough to go smoke a few dozen of people in rememberance of the annoying sounds they make when you had to listen to them with that annoying ringing in your ear. You will feel right as RAIN if you pray to god for a firey ball from heavens hell gate to drop upon their souls for there malfunctions in helping you reliefe the substantial pain.

    February 26, 2013 at 00:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Liala

    The high pitch noise is the sound of electromagnetic frequencies emitted by electrical and wireless technology. Some humans can detect it. Drive out into the country away from hydro and cell phone towers and wind turbines. The noise stops. It's not in your head. It's from the environment.

    May 30, 2013 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Joe

      Your absolutely right on. Hate to say it but, it may be a frequency that will effect us in our future.

      May 16, 2014 at 19:59 | Report abuse |
    • Sharon

      The noise for me never stops, my mother lives way out in the country, no cell phone towers or modern amenities it does not matter it never goes away.

      August 20, 2015 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
  11. Roa

    What a lame advise doctor. Thanks for nothing.

    October 18, 2013 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. EMF Research

    The high pitch noise is the sound of electromagnetic frequencies emitted by electrical and wireless technology. Some humans can detect it. If you live by cell phone towers, satellite discs, have a modem, cell phone, these are contributers. If you ever read or heard on YouTube about strange sounds coming from in remote places that was people like the media (CNN), Radio personnel, and broadcasters testing out their new abilities cell phone towers give them to broadcast. They are able to broadcast around the world now, so load it can cause earthquakes.

    December 24, 2013 at 09:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. J Mack

    Do you have a electrical smart meter on your house? There's your answer. It radiates a high pitched intermittent frequency almost like morse code sound throughout the wiring of your home. You can hear it even with your hands over your ears.

    Google smart meter dangers. Everyone with one of these unsafe things should get their old analog meters put back on fast!

    January 10, 2014 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. pyom

    Wish there were more research done on Tinnitus.

    April 8, 2014 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Joe

    I have it too. Just had a rain storm here and it stopped. Started right back up after the rain storm ended. I think it's coming from the cell towers in my area. I live outside of NYC

    May 16, 2014 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. ercillor

    If the sounds are keeping time with your heartbeat it is something called 'Pulcatile Tinnitus' and it should be looked into. Sometimes pulcatile tinnitus is caused by a heart murmer, often the result of a heart valve problem known as 'Aortic Stenosis.' One should consult a good physician in order to rule this condition out - preferably a cardiologist.
    Good Luck,
    ercillor

    May 21, 2014 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Melba Rodriguez

    October22,2014. Today I have been experiencing noises in my head.

    October 22, 2014 at 13:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Ms. Lee

    I have sound in my ear, and sometimes I think I have Tinnitus or high frequency.

    December 16, 2014 at 22:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Brian N.

    What if I told you it could be from gang stalking voice to skull technology. Your thoughts may be monitored with new and unrealized technology that is used on targeted individual.

    March 1, 2015 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. lynn shepherd

    the high pitched noise is because smart metres in your house and wifi in cafes etc. It has been proved by experts in their fields. Smart metres are very dangerous to health, can cause cancer, tinnitus, migraines etc.THE WORST HOWEVER ARE WIND TURBINES.aGAIN IT HAS BEEN PROVED THET ARE CAUSING PROBS, GOOGLE WIND TURBINE SYNDROME. HEALTH PROBS INCLUDE INSOMNIA.HEAD SHAKING -ALMOST LIKE A MILD SHOCK,. HEADACHES,NAUSEA,TINNUTUS,DEPRESSION IN HUMANS AND ANIMALS. IF YOU CAN YOU NEED TO MOVE A SAFE DISTANCE AWAY. HAS BEEN PROVED BY DOCTORS BUT THOSE IN WIND INDUSTRY LIE TO KEEP THEIR SUBSIDIES.

    March 9, 2015 at 07:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. king

    Try 1 tablet of alprazolam salt ie alprax or any such drug of potency 0.5 or even 0.25 and then see if the sound or tone dampens. I had such problem but with one tablet it was cured. Than to tranquiliser. I do meditation regularly and I should tell you that your tendency to take tension decrease and when you even dream or take stress now you become sensitive of not handling such problems so it leads to sounds like high pitched tone. Its not any alarm oor help of angels now whenever you get fear your brain reacts in same way by increasing high pipitched tone. EveEven in dreams you can hear such tones when a person in normal life never hear this. Just so ssimple case of increased sensitivity. Stop old habbits of taking tensions and relax more because during memeditation or extreme stress body is changes its mode . Its very normal

    March 13, 2015 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Ben Mosquito

    The elderly in particular use a cat-deterrent in their garden. It is a small apparatus with a speaker attached to it. It produces a high-pitched bleep of more than a 100 decibel. The sound is mostly only audible for children, youngsters and people with ears that are still good. Many cat-deterrents use the same noise as the Mosquito. The sound causes pain in the ears, headache, and ringing in the ears. If you have any complaints consult your GP and make mention of it on social media! Working Mosquito: 17KHz-20KHz 90dB Working Cat Deterrent/Animal Chaser: 16KHz-23KHz 130dB call us +31649137777

    April 27, 2015 at 12:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. JT

    I started to have this annoying constant high pitch sound about two months ago...it just appeared suddenly in the morning..I have experienced the same condition last year and went to see a doctor...He advised that some canals in my ears maybe blocking cause i had just recovered from flu..Took the medicine and that sound just went away after 2 weeks...After half year time, i faced the same problem again..This time it was happening in both of my ears...I didnt involve in any accident, live in quiet surrounding, didn't take any medicine...I mean I cant find a reasonable cause for this...I am really scare and panic...i am only 19 and i really dont know why it will happen...

    May 10, 2015 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Sharon

    I have had a loud ticking sound in my right ear for over 20 years, it never goes away, it is an amplified sound like a fast ticking clock. I can not sleep very well, I have constant headaches, brain fog, this noise makes it hard to hear any one. Is there anything that can be done about this does any one else experience this type of noise. I just want to hear silence for the first time in ages.

    August 20, 2015 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Gabriel

    I had this ringing in my ears since I was 4 and ten years later j still hear it but it's LOUDER.
    My gf stays up texting me so I'm not suffering alone.. Any advice on how to stop this at home?

    August 26, 2015 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Bob Cass

    I have a neighbor who lives in the condo above me.We have gone back and forth over the past 5 years.My only conclusion is certain people want me to sell my unit and move out. That's a whole other story. It starting with walking loudly on the floors. and in 5 years has worked it's way up to a loud hissing which causes a feeling from high on the back of the neck to above the ears and then the headache at the temples. She also has the ability to make my inside body rumble. When she is at it ( and believe me she's home a lot as I am, she terrorizes me. I went up there once. I yelled at her she had me that upset. Her friend who is a retired cop took her down to the police station and filed a complaint. I know this is not tinnitus. It doesn't happen out side. And this has a brain behind it. I have some items that makes her shut it down. Or if she uses it late at nite I start yelling out her name telling her to shut off the HISSER. I don't know how long I can hang in. The trustees say there is no proof. The police say go to the court house. It's a civil matter. I told them it is Battery with intent to do bodily harm. He cut me off. I have to sleep with ear plugs on a message chair to compensate for the vibration tool she uses on me. I have sleep apnea. Can't sleep in that room or my real bedroom. It is Foreboden. No one I wrote to will help. It's sad. I have a family (but I live alone) I will not embarrass them. I need to know what it could be she is using. Can you help me. I suffer from PTSD.

    September 27, 2015 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Bat Vision

    We also have the same problem in our house of someone beaming with high pitch noise on all of our family members. I have recorded and kept it in a safe place to demonstrate that we are not hearing things out of nothing.I'm not a fool as I'm an electronics graduate who knows all sorts of scanners including ultrasonic scanners. The sound I recorded seems to be just above the range of 10 KHz which is only good enough to harass people. Who could this be? What could we do to stop this nuisance? We called the police and the officer told us that if we are hearing high pitch noise he has to step outside the house ! We even wrote to all politicians we know of and no reply.

    October 13, 2015 at 17:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bestill

      Yes, Your right .I like the way some people dismiss your question away with comments like ,must be ol' tinnitus or you've lost your mind ,I too have become accustomed to this new form of electronic harassment these are changing times we are living in and people need to be made aware of this new form of electronic harassment only until recently is this now on the books as a Felony .However it may be very difficult to prove the source there are sights that will sell you something called the "Sonic Nausea" also the annoyatron they generate a unique combination of Ultra -high frequency soundwaves which can really turn one's stomach or so it says ,but that's just 1 of many others out their not to mention downloadable apps .Apps.Their is something called a Cyber ear which can amplify the sound with a small parabolic dish and headphones that might help locate the source I was surprised to see all of information and stories from the internet regarding this new trend .I think there used to be an online store where you could purchase these kinds of things called Stalker Beware .I have become to just become the sound that Iam used to now ,just part of my world .It becomes more dominant when I focus on it so I have TVs or music during the day at night I use the white noise seems to cancel it out pretty much .Its definitely some thing you blab out around the neighborhood but If you have a good neighbor you can trust who happens to have a Dog even better ,as was my case.my neighbor couldn't really hear all but every time the Dog did and I would show the dog owner my thumbs up every time the dog would bark towards my backyard at the same time ..My neighbor was convinced something was going on ..just from his dogs reaction .What amazes me is how far some people will go to get back or just harass others ,from everything to a road rage incident to a neighbor wanting somebody else to live next door .or thugs wanting to get in the neighborhood. Gentrification .etc.
      Best of luck to you and I will keep on ..

      January 13, 2016 at 23:40 | Report abuse |
  28. john

    To over come the constant sound I listen to music all the time during the day, at night I run a dehumidifier...

    November 8, 2015 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. bestill

    I have grown accustomed to that frequency and my neighbors dogs still starts barking at night or every time it starts up .
    I meant to write definitely something you don't want to blab around the neighborhood .

    January 13, 2016 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. bestill

    There is also a model of the annoyatron ,maybe it was called the creepatron that you can record a message and it will emit the recording at a high barely audible frequency .Not cool . I heard of some Kids were bringing to schools .Maybe this info / post helps someone going through a difficult situation they cant readily explain .

    January 13, 2016 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
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