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What Can Cause A Swishing Sound in Your Ear?

It is estimated that 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, a medical condition that manifests as a persistent ringing, whooshing or swishing sound in your ear. Because the sound originates from inside the ear, people suffering from tinnitus may feel like an ocean is a roaring inside their head.

If you want to get an idea of what a person with tinnitus hears, check American Tinnitus Association’s Sounds of Tinnitus.

The ringing in your ear that you may experience after a concert is an example of temporary, or short-term, tinnitus. But for millions of people, the condition is more severe, and they suffer from chronic tinnitus. It is quite common among people who are above the age of 55 and is a strong indicator of hearing loss.

Causes of tinnitus

We still don’t know exactly what causes tinnitus, but there are several likely factors. It can be caused by ear disorders such as:

  • Earwax buildup, a perforated eardrum, or something touching the eardrum
  • Infection, allergies, otosclerosis, or tumors in the middle ear
  • Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL) due to exposure to loud noise, Meniere’s disease, or aging
  • Trauma to the head or neck, neck misalignment, and TMJ disorders
  • Systemic conditions such as diabetes, vascular disorders, thyroid dysfunction, or low blood pressure

Tinnitus can also be a result of anti-inflammatory medication, antidepressants, sedatives, and certain antibiotics.

Many tinnitus patients also have hearing loss, but a ringing or swishing sound in your ear doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re losing your hearing.

What should you do if you have tinnitus?

The first thing to do is to visit your primary care physician who will check for excess ear wax buildup in the ear canal or other medical conditions and medications that may be causing the problem. An ENT specialist can examine your neck, head, and ears and also test your hearing to determine if you have hearing loss along with tinnitus. If there is a serious problem, you may be required to consult an audiologist who will do further testing to evaluate the extent of hearing loss and tinnitus.

What can help?

There is no single cure for the condition, but it can be effectively managed by working with a hearing care professional (HCP) who will develop a personalized treatment plan for you. With the help of advanced hearing aid technology, and the expert guidance of your HCP, you will learn how to deal with the persistent annoyance of tinnitus. Don’t worry if you have hearing loss also along with tinnitus: According to the Better Hearing Institute, 27.8% of hearing aid users reported a substantial reduction in tinnitus by using hearing aids while also improving their hearing.

Improving your overall well-being will also make it easier for you to cope with the condition. Relaxation, exercise, and healthy eating are always recommended.

Want more tinnitus information?

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John Cariola, Au.D.
John has been working in the audiology industry since 1983 and has a true love and passion for everything the hearing health world has to offer. He grew up witnessing the British Invasion of The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks, etc. which really means he started out life with sound, really loud sound. And his passion for all sound continues today. John is currently Beltone's Director of Product Management. More About John

16 Replies

  • hotel comparison

    I’m still trying to figure out the swishing sound in both my ears,but this website was helpful. Thanks.

  • Jill Kipp

    I have menieres disease. I was diagnosed in Aug 2013. Today i am still hearing swishing sound in my right ear only. I have been thru an ENT and had a cat scan to check for tumor and found none. Had the hearing test done too. Lost alot of my hearing from the menieres. I am looking for a good hearing aid.

    • Letrisse

      I am having the same problem, but I don’t have Menieres disease. I do however, have Lupus. I was wondering how things are going? Have you found relief? I hope so! Thanks so much, and please advise if you are able. Take Care.


  • janice engle

    I have what sounds like air swishing in ears I hear it with every motion i take, what could this be?

    • Brittany Kovalcik

      Hi Janice,
      We suggest having a hearing care professional take a look at it for you. You can schedule a free appointment with your local professional by calling 800-BELTONE.

  • Lida

    Thank you for the information. I need to find some assist for my dtr. 23yo. Also with Very bad migraines No primary. Going to make some calls in am. Thx

  • James

    I know I have Tinnitus and have had it for over 20 years and just learned to deal with it. But on occasions I have a swishing sound and it can happen irregular. I may get up and it will swish and I can take a few steps and it will swish again. It’s fall of the year and was wondering if if could be due to the changing of the weather. I had it back in late winter and then it went away. Now it’s back. Please advise!

    • Amy Duvall

      Hi James,

      Please give us a call at 1-800-BELTONE so we can help schedule a FREE hearing evaluation at your local Beltone office.

      Thank you.

  • stephanie birch

    I had an head injury and I keep getting strange noises in my ears it’s like the sea but also feels numb but since my head injuries my hearing is very strong even to the point I can hear the noise of a fly buzzing is this because I lost some eye sight since head injury

    • Amy Duvall

      Hi Stephanie,

      Sorry for the delayed response. Please see your doctor immediately. If they want you to have a hearing test done, please give us a call to schedule.

      Thank you.

  • Paulette

    I have had swishing in my ear for a year, sometime it is loud and sometime I can’t hear it. I’ve had two hearing test everything came back normal. I want to take another test.

  • Debra Singleton

    I have the swishing sound in my ear sometimes I put coconut oil in my ear and it drowns out the shishing sound I went to the doctor and they said they didn’t see anything

    • Amy Duvall

      Hi Debra,

      Have you had a hearing test done yet? I would recommend setting up your free hearing screening with us to see if you can get any answers. Thank you.

  • Amy Wills

    Paulette, I had swishing in my ear for about 8 months. MRI, CT, Ultrasound, hearing all negative. Still don’t know the origin of the noise, but I am on Diamox. Love the quiet. I tried to get off it once and the noise came back.

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