Phantom Sounds & Tinnitus - A Link?

~pyewackett~

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I have always had very good hearing and very sensitive ears. Loud noises cause pain and a ticking watch in a drawer in the next room disturbs my sleep.
Recently I’ve developed tinnitus. It has been constant now for the past three months, causing crippling insomnia and exhaustion. I was previously very ignorant about the condition but have since learned that it caused by the brain and not an outside source....and this made me consider some previous odd experiences I’ve had regarding sounds.

The best example I can give is when I had just moved into my previous home in June 2002. It was a large house with a big garden backing into fields in a quiet area of rural Dorset, close to the Wilshire border.
My partner was on his first shift of a four-on four-off pattern working nights.
I was used to being alone and in no way worried.
At around 05:00am that a huge crash shook me awake. It was an almighty noise and felt the whole house shaking. I was almost thrown out of bed by the force of the (what I thought was an) explosion.
I quickly grabbed my robe and ran out of the bedroom and onto the landing, not knowing what to expect.
The house was silent. The light fittings were still. There was no sign of any disturbance at all.
Puzzled, I went down stairs and searched the entire house, then the garden. It was a light summer morning with the birds singing. No sign of structural damage, no sign of any damage to the neighbours. Nothing.

This deafening crash seemed to have been an auditory hallucination.

I never had the experience again at the house and had largely forgotten about. That was until June this year. I was at work (I work in a castle) and was closing up for the night. As I reached the steep stairs that climb up through the Keep to the roof I wasn’t thinking of anything other than getting home after a long day. I was under the stairs when I thought I heard what sounded like a huge number of people running down the wooden staircase above me....then it hit me that it was the sound of rubble - and the entire tower started to shake. I was terrified thinking that tonnes of medieval stonework was about to crash down and crush me. I crouched down as the floor was moving as what sounded like masonry crashed down around my ears.
It stopped and I opened my eyes expecting to see utter devastation. There was nothing. I assumed that the damage would be visible at the foot of the staircase and braced myself as I came out from under the stairs. Nothing. No dust, no rubble, no masonry. Complete silence. I then crept up the stairs and ventured into every room to check for damage. No sign. Even the birds that live on the upper most parts of the battlements were undisturbed.
I checked everywhere, locked up, and went into the office across the inner bailey to ask my colleague if there’d been an earthquake. There hadn’t. I told her what happened and we then both went back into the tower to check. Nothing was out of place.

So my question is - do we ‘hear’ phantom noises (voices, footsteps, crashes) with the same part of the brain that causes tinnitus?
 

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The first story sounds like the alarmingly-named "exploding head syndrome", it's quite common, where you are awakened by a bang or crash that has been created in your mind. Don't know what causes it, though!

The second story might be the same thing, but it does sound like a slate slipping off the roof or something like that. Can't help any more than that, but two good tales, thanks!
 

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I have always had very good hearing and very sensitive ears. Loud noises cause pain and a ticking watch in a drawer in the next room disturbs my sleep.
Recently I’ve developed tinnitus. It has been constant now for the past three months, causing crippling insomnia and exhaustion. I was previously very ignorant about the condition but have since learned that it caused by the brain and not an outside source....and this made me consider some previous odd experiences I’ve had regarding sounds.

The best example I can give is when I had just moved into my previous home in June 2002. It was a large house with a big garden backing into fields in a quiet area of rural Dorset, close to the Wilshire border.
My partner was on his first shift of a four-on four-off pattern working nights.
I was used to being alone and in no way worried.
At around 05:00am that a huge crash shook me awake. It was an almighty noise and felt the whole house shaking. I was almost thrown out of bed by the force of the (what I thought was an) explosion.
I quickly grabbed my robe and ran out of the bedroom and onto the landing, not knowing what to expect.
The house was silent. The light fittings were still. There was no sign of any disturbance at all.
Puzzled, I went down stairs and searched the entire house, then the garden. It was a light summer morning with the birds singing. No sign of structural damage, no sign of any damage to the neighbours. Nothing.

This deafening crash seemed to have been an auditory hallucination.

I never had the experience again at the house and had largely forgotten about. That was until June this year. I was at work (I work in a castle) and was closing up for the night. As I reached the steep stairs that climb up through the Keep to the roof I wasn’t thinking of anything other than getting home after a long day. I was under the stairs when I thought I heard what sounded like a huge number of people running down the wooden staircase above me....then it hit me that it was the sound of rubble - and the entire tower started to shake. I was terrified thinking that tonnes of medieval stonework was about to crash down and crush me. I crouched down as the floor was moving as what sounded like masonry crashed down around my ears.
It stopped and I opened my eyes expecting to see utter devastation. There was nothing. I assumed that the damage would be visible at the foot of the staircase and braced myself as I came out from under the stairs. Nothing. No dust, no rubble, no masonry. Complete silence. I then crept up the stairs and ventured into every room to check for damage. No sign. Even the birds that live on the upper most parts of the battlements were undisturbed.
I checked everywhere, locked up, and went into the office across the inner bailey to ask my colleague if there’d been an earthquake. There hadn’t. I told her what happened and we then both went back into the tower to check. Nothing was out of place.

So my question is - do we ‘hear’ phantom noises (voices, footsteps, crashes) with the same part of the brain that causes tinnitus?
I have quite bad tinnitus but (so far) haven't heard any phantom noises (I think) apart from a loud cracking noise... but that may have been external - the house cooling down, etc.
Did you ask any other people if they'd experienced anything at the castle?
 

~pyewackett~

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I have quite bad tinnitus but (so far) haven't heard any phantom noises (I think) apart from a loud cracking noise... but that may have been external - the house cooling down, etc.
Did you ask any other people if they'd experienced anything at the castle?
I’ve worked there for four years and several members of the team have all had their own experiences but none like this.
We have also heard noises when working together - but that’s a very different to my experience.
 

~pyewackett~

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The first story sounds like the alarmingly-named "exploding head syndrome", it's quite common, where you are awakened by a bang or crash that has been created in your mind. Don't know what causes it, though!

The second story might be the same thing, but it does sound like a slate slipping off the roof or something like that. Can't help any more than that, but two good tales, thanks!
It wasn’t a slate. The roof is leaded.
It was terrific and deafening and I was convinced that tonnes of medieval stones were going to crush me.

I haven’t heard of ‘exploding head syndrome’ but I’m glad that this is common ☺
 

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Great tales :) Thank you @~pyewackett~

I have tinnittus on the side that is about 95% deaf. That's a constant.

It may be relevant that I get definite "noises" when I'm half asleep. Usually sharp knocks or raps (to use a loaded word :) )

My personal filing system classified them as the same as the pain from a phantom limb... but I have actual evidence.
 

EnolaGaia

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... So my question is - do we ‘hear’ phantom noises (voices, footsteps, crashes) with the same part of the brain that causes tinnitus?
First - a clarification ... Tinnitus (perceived noise(s)) refers to the effect, not the underlying cause. Tinnitus is not uniquely associated with the brain, and it is not a condition that's always caused in or by the brain per se. It can, for example, be caused by damage to any number of tissues (e.g., inner / middle ear, auditory nerves, Eustachian tubes), and it can be a side-effect of circulatory and other conditions.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156


The most likely explanation for the morning incident would be a hypnagogic / hypnopompic "crash" (aka "exploding head syndrome") - a common occurrence when slipping into or out of sleep:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/exploding-head-syndrome.115/


Unless you were dozing on your feet when closing up the castle, it's unlikely the night incident relates to EHS. A sudden onrush of such sustained rumbling / crashing noise would be more consistent with something like a radical circulatory (e.g., blood pressure; blood flow) shift.
 

~pyewackett~

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First - a clarification ... Tinnitus (perceived noise(s)) refers to the effect, not the underlying cause. Tinnitus is not uniquely associated with the brain, and it is not a condition that's always caused in or by the brain per se. It can, for example, be caused by damage to any number of tissues (e.g., inner / middle ear, auditory nerves, Eustachian tubes), and it can be a side-effect of circulatory and other conditions.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/symptoms-causes/syc-20350156


The most likely explanation for the morning incident would be a hypnagogic / hypnopompic "crash" (aka "exploding head syndrome") - a common occurrence when slipping into or out of sleep:

https://forums.forteana.org/index.php?threads/exploding-head-syndrome.115/


Unless you were dozing on your feet when closing up the castle, it's unlikely the night incident relates to EHS. A sudden onrush of such sustained rumbling / crashing noise would be more consistent with something like a radical circulatory (e.g., blood pressure; blood flow) shift.
The noise in the tower was that of masonry crashing down. Banging, crashing, scraping, smashing. The sounds of stones. My blood pressure is perfect.
 

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I have tinnitus. A continuous 'zizzing' sound. Quite low volume, and it isn't generally a problem. It only become so when I am trying to listen to very low sounds. Sort of extracting the signal from the noise background.
It did start after I had a mild stroke. And shortly after the stroke I suddenly went deaf on my right side. A few days later the hearing returned, but then the zizzing started. That it is related to blood flow I can tell as it varies slightly in time with my pulse rate.

And I have also heard a couple of sudden 'bangs' that apparently had no cause.

It's not a problem.
 

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I used to get the exploding thing, only happened a few times and hurt like hell afterwards, haven't had it in a lot of years now, i also have tinnitus, mine is a ringing, high pitched, tend not to notice it unless it is silent or someone mentions it, ie: here, thanks lol. Hear some noises, but i ignore them cause i know it has to be my tinnitus pissing about, but never heard anything to the extent you are hearing things
 

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Shady,

There is an odd quirk to my tinnitus.

Every now and then it suddenly dies right down to nothing, and then there is a burst of a high frequency tone that slowly fades away. As it ends the zizzing comes back.
 

hunck

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I have constant tinnitus of the high pitched variety but have never had an episode like yours. Seems you actually 'felt' the ground shaking like an earthquake. That's more than hearing things that aren't there.

The two episodes happened pre tinnitus setting in, which seems to be your current problem. What is the nature of your tinnitus - high pitched like mine or different? If it's stopping you sleeping that's obviously not good. You have to find a way of 'zoning out' of it - find a way of ignoring it to some degree, maybe have a radio on really quietly that you have to concentrate on to hear it.

I don't know the answer to your question, but sympathise..
 

EnolaGaia

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To my mind the most interesting aspect of the night / castle incident is the perceived sensation of physical shaking / quaking while awake.*

It occurred to me this may be intrinsically linked to one possible source of the phantom noise.

Perceived aural effects can be triggered by transient weirdness occurring with the peripheral sensory apparatus. The middle and inner ear structures are in-line within the aural sensory "circuit." The inner ear includes two sub-units: the cochlea and the vestibular system. The vestibular system is critical to the internal / proprioceptive sense of own-body positioning, orientation, and balance.

A transient disruption to the vestibular system (and / or its neural connections) would be interpreted by the brain as a shift of physical position or orientation. A series of such disruptive stimuli - especially a series of rapidly pulsed such stimuli - would yield a received impression of violent shaking or vibration.

* Somatic / physical spasms or quiverings are common with hypnagogic / hypnopompic jerks, so a shaking sensation isn't odd in the context of those types of incidents.
 

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Following an ear infection, caused by a burst ear drum, I had terrible vertigo - usually on waking the room would spin for a couple of minutes (just like I was very, very drunk). Luckily this faded after a few weeks but every now and again I would feel as though someone had pushed me - this continues to this day (30+ years after) along with constant tinnitus in both ears but my hearing is very good.
 

~pyewackett~

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I used to get the exploding thing, only happened a few times and hurt like hell afterwards, haven't had it in a lot of years now, i also have tinnitus, mine is a ringing, high pitched, tend not to notice it unless it is silent or someone mentions it, ie: here, thanks lol. Hear some noises, but i ignore them cause i know it has to be my tinnitus pissing about, but never heard anything to the extent you are hearing things
Mine is like a high-pitched whistling or morse-code or sounds like the old dia-up noise the internet used to make
 

~pyewackett~

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Following an ear infection, caused by a burst ear drum, I had terrible vertigo - usually on waking the room would spin for a couple of minutes (just like I was very, very drunk). Luckily this faded after a few weeks but every now and again I would feel as though someone had pushed me - this continues to this day (30+ years after) along with constant tinnitus in both ears but my hearing is very good.
Oh bless you - both ears? How awful
 

~pyewackett~

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To my mind the most interesting aspect of the night / castle incident is the perceived sensation of physical shaking / quaking while awake.*

It occurred to me this may be intrinsically linked to one possible source of the phantom noise.

Perceived aural effects can be triggered by transient weirdness occurring with the peripheral sensory apparatus. The middle and inner ear structures are in-line within the aural sensory "circuit." The inner ear includes two sub-units: the cochlea and the vestibular system. The vestibular system is critical to the internal / proprioceptive sense of own-body positioning, orientation, and balance.

A transient disruption to the vestibular system (and / or its neural connections) would be interpreted by the brain as a shift of physical position or orientation. A series of such disruptive stimuli - especially a series of rapidly pulsed such stimuli - would yield a received impression of violent shaking or vibration.

* Somatic / physical spasms or quiverings are common with hypnagogic / hypnopompic jerks, so a shaking sensation isn't odd in the context of those types of incidents.
I know the inner workings of the ear and it’s links to balance.

Thank you for the information on violent shaking - that’s exactly what it felt like! Not dizziness, not feeling unsteady - I was physically shaken into a crouching position - as if the ground was violently shaking - what I’d imagine a strong earthquake to feel like. It continued for over a minute - but no longer. I genuinely believe I was about to be crushed by tonnes of medieval masonry. That cliche of my life flashing before my eyes actually happened and I desperately wanted to tell my partner I loved him (despite him leaving dirty dishes that very morning ☺)
 

~pyewackett~

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I have constant tinnitus of the high pitched variety but have never had an episode like yours. Seems you actually 'felt' the ground shaking like an earthquake. That's more than hearing things that aren't there.

The two episodes happened pre tinnitus setting in, which seems to be your current problem. What is the nature of your tinnitus - high pitched like mine or different? If it's stopping you sleeping that's obviously not good. You have to find a way of 'zoning out' of it - find a way of ignoring it to some degree, maybe have a radio on really quietly that you have to concentrate on to hear it.

I don't know the answer to your question, but sympathise..
My tinnitus is in my left ear and is a high-pitched whine, a shrill morse-code series of bips and beeps, or an unpleasant sound like the old dial-up internet noise. It’s very intrusive and has been constant for months, never easing or ceasing. I’ve taken to trying to fall asleep with the tv on but my partner turns it off and I wake up again. All very exhaustin.

As to my two experiences - I felt the building move. The experience in the tower was the worst. Very violent shaking that caused me to crouch down to stop myself from being thrown around....
 

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I have tinnitus as well (years of playing bass in a loud rock band is to blame, haha!) although luckily mine is also fairly mild unless it's really quiet.

Two interesting things though...1. When I was a kid, we always used to say that the high-pitched ringing in your ears was "the dead trying to contact you" lol! I have no idea where that one started! But then even though I know it's ridiculous, if it's the middle of the night and I notice my ears ringing, I can't help but think of it and get creeped out for a moment!

And 2. My wife has worse tinnitus than I do and has to sleep with a portable fan on (yes, even in the middle of winter! We've been married for years now and still I moan about this on a nightly basis, lol!) But then sometimes, if I focus on the noise of the fan, it always starts to sound like voices whispering!

Which makes me wonder whether having our hearing 'impaired' causes us to misinterpret innocent sounds for something more sinister...or whether supernatural entities might see it as an opportunity to sneak in a message or two when we can't be entirely sure exactly what we just heard! Eek!
 

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I have always had very good hearing and very sensitive ears. Loud noises cause pain and a ticking watch in a drawer in the next room disturbs my sleep.
My hearing is sensitive like this as well, with loud noises being painful. I also think that I just notice my surroundings more than many people seem to. I have tinnitus in both ears, which has grown louder over time. The tones are high pitched and each ear has a different tone, but the tones harmonize with each other. Because external noises, such as ticking watches and passing cars, bother me, I usually sleep with ear plugs. I'd rather listen to my tinnitus than to many other noises! The worst sounds are electronic devices and old fluorescent light bulbs.
 

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I had a few episodes of the "Exploding Head Syndrome". What I find curious is that, in my case, they were separated by years. The first time it happened it was the early 1990s (1991 or 1992, I can't be sure) : twice I woke up because of a sound of a small explosion or, more accurately, a detonation. It felt like a small bomb (like fireworks, but VERY close) or as if somebody had fired a gun close to my ear. The first time, it was early in the morning, the second maybe in the middle of the night. Then, nothing, for many years. The second time it happened, again I was awoke by the sound of a gun being fired, this time in 2010 or 2011. Again, early in the morning, during a cold winter. Since then, nothing again. As far as I know, I have no tinnitus and these were the only instances of a loud bang. Sometimes I hear sounds like something falling to the floor or over a table, either at home or at office, but nothing even close of a loud bang.
 

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I have it in both my ears, but it would drive me crazy if it were in one, i think.
I tend to agree - I suppose it sort of balances it out.
Yes. I don't know how anyone manages it with both ears.
If both my ears had this ringing, I'd regard that as a major life issue.
I can hear it constantly but I've learnt to filter it out over time - it gets much worse when I have a cold.
It never really bothers me unless there is a lot of background noise then everything sounds distorted and my brain goes into sensory overload.
Rock concerts are now a thing of the past unless it's Blue Oyster Cult then I'll put up with it for a couple of hours but then the tinnitus is much louder for several days afterwards and is really annoying.
 

~pyewackett~

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I had a few episodes of the "Exploding Head Syndrome". What I find curious is that, in my case, they were separated by years. The first time it happened it was the early 1990s (1991 or 1992, I can't be sure) : twice I woke up because of a sound of a small explosion or, more accurately, a detonation. It felt like a small bomb (like fireworks, but VERY close) or as if somebody had fired a gun close to my ear. The first time, it was early in the morning, the second maybe in the middle of the night. Then, nothing, for many years. The second time it happened, again I was awoke by the sound of a gun being fired, this time in 2010 or 2011. Again, early in the morning, during a cold winter. Since then, nothing again. As far as I know, I have no tinnitus and these were the only instances of a loud bang. Sometimes I hear sounds like something falling to the floor or over a table, either at home or at office, but nothing even close of a loud bang.
How odd!
 

~pyewackett~

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My hearing is sensitive like this as well, with loud noises being painful. I also think that I just notice my surroundings more than many people seem to. I have tinnitus in both ears, which has grown louder over time. The tones are high pitched and each ear has a different tone, but the tones harmonize with each other. Because external noises, such as ticking watches and passing cars, bother me, I usually sleep with ear plugs. I'd rather listen to my tinnitus than to many other noises! The worst sounds are electronic devices and old fluorescent light bulbs.
Holy Moly! I’ve not had any problem with old fluorescent lights (I have one in my utility room) or electronic devices.
My ears are very small so any headphones, ear-plugs etc are really very painful to wear.
 

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My tinnitus is in my left ear and is a high-pitched whine, a shrill morse-code series of bips and beeps, or an unpleasant sound like the old dial-up internet noise. It’s very intrusive and has been constant for months, never easing or ceasing. I’ve taken to trying to fall asleep with the tv on but my partner turns it off and I wake up again. All very exhaustin.

.
All the more reason to try a radio. Have it on your side of the bed & on really quietly so you have to focus to hear it. It may keep your partner awake for a bit but if it allows you to get some sleep surely he'd put up with it..

Tinnitus I think is one of those things that once you've got it, it doesn't go away. I've not heard of sufferers whose tinnitus suddenly stops, although that's not to say it never happens. You have to find a way of dealing with it.

Did something happen that you can pin a cause on? A bang on the head can do it, obviously loud sounds, & I've also read about people reporting it post-virus of some sort..
 

~pyewackett~

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All the more reason to try a radio. Have it on your side of the bed & on really quietly so you have to focus to hear it. It may keep your partner awake for a bit but if it allows you to get some sleep surely he'd put up with it..

Tinnitus I think is one of those things that once you've got it, it doesn't go away. I've not heard of sufferers whose tinnitus suddenly stops, although that's not to say it never happens. You have to find a way of dealing with it.

Did something happen that you can pin a cause on? A bang on the head can do it, obviously loud sounds, & I've also read about people reporting it post-virus of some sort..
Nothing I can put my finger on.
I did have a very bad fluey-type bug in January that knocked me for flat out for three weeks. During that I had double-vision and ear-ache. The tinnitus began out of the blue months afterward.

I will try a radio - thank you for suggesting it.
 

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Nothing I can put my finger on.
I did have a very bad fluey-type bug in January that knocked me for flat out for three weeks. During that I had double-vision and ear-ache. The tinnitus began out of the blue months afterward.

I will try a radio - thank you for suggesting it.
Good luck - you need to be able to get some sleep.

There's also NHS clinics around if you have a search. They may be able to give you some info on tactics to deal with it.
 

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I have had tinnitus for years, started after a bout of labyrinthitus. Usually I can tell the difference between the external noises and the noises in my head, but if I am tired, stressed or have a temperature its not so obvious and I have embarrassed my self a few times by rushing off to check the boiler as it sounds like it is going to explode or looking for the running taps.

I am intrigued by Pyewacketts idea that there is a link to mysterious noises and hearing problems, but more surprised by how many fortean tinnitus sufferers there are. may be living with the constant noise makes us thoughtful and reflective?

By the way mine is hissing and occasionally musical, also get bouts that sound like people muttering behind me.
 
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