Low-Pitched Humming / Droning / Rumbling Tinnitus — Mostly Triggered by Low-Pitched Sounds

Discussion in 'Support' started by Juha, Mar 22, 2022.

    1. Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hello everyone,

      I've been reading this forum but now I created a profile hoping to find any support from others who have perhaps similar symptoms as I do.

      Humming started around nine months ago in my right ear. I might have also had similar symptoms before but on a smaller scale. What I hear is low-pitched humming, droning or rumbling sound. It's hard to put in words but it's like some kind of an engine sound or similar. I don't believe it's pulsatile.

      Mostly it's triggered by low-pitched sounds. For example, if a car goes by our house then that triggers my ear to make loud low-pitched noise. My ear kind of like amplifies the noise and I'm not able to hear the original much more silent sound.

      It's volatile and on bad days I feel that almost anything triggers it and the humming in my ear is almost constant. This has been the case lately and I'm feeling quite desperate. It's hard to focus on working, reading or trying to fall asleep. I don't hear it in loud places though, such as in my car. The problem is mostly at home and it's quite hard to find any masking sound for it. The sound is so low-pitched and loud it penetrates easily through other sounds.

      Here are some other related notes:
      • I have also high-pitched tinnitus in same ear but it's much more easier to cope with.
      • I have minor hearing loss in both ears in middle frequencies.
      • If I put my finger in the right ear it stops the sound. Same with effective hearing protectors but not always that well with earplugs.
      • Sometimes I feel the hum in my whole body as some kind of electrical sensations.
      • If my ear is not humming I can start it easily by yawning or turning my head upwards (nose pointing towards ceiling) and I can sometimes make it stop by tilting head forward.
      • I have neck tension and I have occasionally taken muscle relaxants which eliminates the humming quite well but it returns right after the relaxant's effect runs out. However, I haven't find any correlation between neck tension and hum. For example, massaging doesn't work. It's only the muscle relaxants that does the trick for some reason.
      • Usually in the morning I don't hear the hum or it's not loud. It's getting worse during the day being worst in the evening.
      • If I go for a run outside the hum is really loud after coming back home. The volume decreases after an hour or so.
      • The ear is more inclined to be triggered when lying in bed.
      ENT doctor said my ears are basically fine and it's just tinnitus and I should get used to it. I believe this is true to some extent but this humming behaves so differently compared to normal" tinnitus which I also have, so I'm hoping there would be something I could do. If this will be constant rest of my life then I have no idea how I will be able to find ways to habituate.

      Any comments would be much appreciated!
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    2. koffee_monster
      Sleepy

      koffee_monster Member

      Location:
      West Europe
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure or Ototoxicity
      Hi Juha!

      To me, it sounds like your tinnitus is muscle or pressure-related.

      Does your droning sound similar to what you hear when you close your eyes very tightly and "put pressure on" your eyelids? If so, it is possibly a muscle causing the sound.

      I'm not a doctor or an expert and would suggest discussing any possible treatment or symptoms with your GP. Here are my thoughts:
      That is an indicator for pressure (possible ETD) or tensor tympani tension causing the sound.
      I do not know much about TMJ, but perhaps this could be related. Also pointer for tensor tympani tension.
      Also an indicator for tensor tympani muscle acting up.

      Do you remember any specific event that caused the onset of this sensitivity to (low-pitched) sounds? Did it come up gradually? Or was it instantly noticeable once it came up?

      It's annoying that the ENT was not able to give some more meaningful diagnosis or explanation. The jaw movement and muscle relaxants really make me believe that there's indeed more to it than "just tinnitus" and that it's possibly even treatable or solvable with currently available medication.

      You could discuss this with your GP during an appointment, explaining the fact that muscle relaxants bring relief and the droning is silenced when you plug your ears. Perhaps they could give some insight or advise you to get a scan or check by an expert (preferably not the same ENT).

      I hope an underlying issue is discovered and treated. This really sounds solvable or at least controllable with the right treatment and care or medications.

      Best of luck!
       
      • Like Like x 1
    3. SB1981

      SB1981 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multifactorial
      I just developed something similar in the past month.

      Mine are definitely more inclined to be triggered lying in bed. Either ear will start to rumble and sound like a chainsaw cutting and then idling like a cycle. It will wind up and get louder too.

      Nothing physical stops mine.

      It responds to residual inhibition which seems to be the opposite of yours. If I listen to something in a similar frequency range I can quiet mine down some or reset the wind up.

      I am also struggling to habituate to this kind of tinnitus. My other high frequency sounds I was fairly habituated to after a few years.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hi koffee_monster and thank you for your thoughts!

      You made really good points and I am planning to go to see a GP in the near future. I have also thought about possible ETD or TTTS problems but haven't found clear link to those. There are some similarities indeed. I don't have ear pain though and I don't feel that my ear is full or plugged that much. I think I also should go to see a dentist regarding possible TMJ related problems.
      I think so! My sound tends to vary a bit but it's something like this indeed.
      This is a really good question. I remember that I have found low-pitched sounds always annoying and there is quite constant stream of cars going near our house so those have caused constant low rumble sounds indoors. So maybe I've had some minor symptoms much longer time. But something changed last year when my right ear started to make this sound on its own. Or started to make it much louder than before. Long time I thought there was something going on outside (some machine or something) but when the hum was present in my parents' house as well I realized it's coming from my ear. So I would say this came somewhat gradually but got quite worse within a short period of time. There wasn't anything clear that made this happen, such as noise exposure etc. I have always find my right ear to be a little different compared to the left one. Right has been always much more sensitive to sounds overall. What is weird though is that the hearing loss is more severe in the left ear and I don't have any problems with that ear. :)
       
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hi @SB1981,

      That sounds somewhat similar. Good thing is that you are able to use residual inhibition. If I find some noise that masks the humming (dish washer is pretty good) I will be back to humming as soon as the masking sound disappears.

      I have understood that many people find hard to habituate to low-pitched noises. I'm pretty ok with my high-pitched "normal" tinnitus but I'm afraid it gets louder in the future.
       
    6. Benjaminbb

      Benjaminbb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Nov 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely long term noise exposure, combined w pandemic stress
      Hey @Juha, I would describe mine exactly the way you have described yours. 100%. Welcome!

      In terms of inhibition mine fluctuates but almost always after I go out to bars(with ear plugs) or drive for hours it is inhibited for a few days. Yours might react that way if you experience longer bass input than a dishwasher.

      Its also not the same rumble as the tensor tympani rumble. I can create that whilst still hearing the hum separately. Different kind of rumble. The calmer rumble we sometimes have is the hum flickering on and off quietly or amplifying distant sounds. Even though I don’t believed this to be TTTS, it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be another inner ear muscle such as the stapedius though. Which with time could potentially improve.

      I’ve been looking into this for a while and everything points towards this being ear related, possibly damage and not external neck issues or pulsatile. The one feature of being able to mute it and keep it muted whilst a tilting head/neck down is the only thing that is intriguing there. I have that too when sitting then tilting head down. It’s very strange as there is no internal head noise that could inhibit it like putting your finger in the ear, or rotating the head does. But it likely does work in some similar way to the latter two temporary inhibitors.

      The amplification, the sensitivity to sound and the inhibition from louder long bass sounds(ie driving a car for hours) at best could be an inner ear muscle. But considering the correlation with other forms of tinnitus and people who’ve been around a lot of loud sound I’d assume it’s stems from some form of damage but not in the traditional form. It’s uniqueness could stem from outer hair cell damage/misfiring which are involved in amplification of low level sound as opposed to inner hair cells. If you read up on outer hair cells this will start to make a lot more sense.

      We’re in this together and let’s see if we’re able to find an answer or solution as to the uniqueness of the hum. Praying it’s stapedius tensing but I do think outer hair cell amplification flickering on and off makes more sense.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hi @Benjaminbb, and thank you for your thoughts! It's nice to know there are other people with similar condition (even though I don't wish this to anyone).

      I have to try longer inhibition but I have had experience of two hour car drive and I can remember I had the hum right after I stopped the car. But maybe some low-pitched sounds with headphones on for longer time period might work. Sometimes listening to headphones leads to the feeling my ear is clogged after listening.

      Your theory on outer hair cells sounds interesting and I have to look that up more. If the hum is that then I would assume there is not much to do about it and the habituation is the only "cure" for it.

      What I find weird though is that if it's related to the damage in the ear then how come my symptoms are almost nonexistent in the morning? And why muscle relaxers clearly have some effect on the symptoms? Do you have any similar experiences?

      Has anyone experienced any sound induced physical sensations such as electrical vibrations or trembling feeling in the body? I have those sometimes and find them pretty odd. Those can be stopped by using hearing protectors so it's definitely some distorted sound related issue.
       
    8. Frayact

      Frayact Member

      Location:
      Greensboro, NC
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I started hearing a typical high-pitched hissing in my head back in 1996. A few months later, a low-frequency hum was added to the mix. I eventually habituated to the higher frequency, but the humming completely changed my life for the worst. I could only sleep a few hours a night as it sounded like an electric current was vibrating in my ears. I went to more doctors that I can remember, had three MRIs, and multiple hearing tests. Everything came back normal. In fact, my hearing was above average. This particular form of tinnitus was definitely reactive. Listening to music, strumming my acoustic guitar, and even talking on the phone made it worse. It was like a sleeping giant that could easily be awoken. If I shook my head from side to side, the humming would stop as if it were being "interrupted." But as soon as my head was still, the beast would return. That made me think there was some kind of mechanical cause. But the doctors couldn't find the cause (which isn't uncommon). Masking never worked for me, in fact, it made it worse.

      The only thing that would temporarily relieve it was a kind of residual inhibition. Going to see a loud, live band while wearing ear plugs would "fool" my brain into believing that something had replaced the noise. I would have virtual silence for a couple of nights. But a few days later, it would come back in all its glory.

      This went on from 1996 to 1999. I had no quality of life because of the loud hum in my head. It was a living nightmare every day. My doctor strongly recommended an antidepressant as he could tell I was not doing well. In fact, there were a few times when I considered suicide. After having no success with various AD's, he put me on Effexor XR. Within a few weeks, the humming in my head started to fade away. Eventually it disappeared altogether. I had my life back. I could listen to music again without fear of a lingering noise afterward. I started writing music again on my guitar. I felt free and clear of the demon.

      This solace lasted about a year. Then, in September of 2000, it mysteriously returned one morning. I hoped it was only temporary, but it stuck around for a week and then a month. My doctor increased the dosage of the Effexor, but all that did was make me feel like a zombie with tinnitus. I decided to ween myself off of it.

      I tried other AD's, but none of them worked, not even on my depression, much less my tinnitus. But then in 2005, I learned of a new AD called Lexapro. A friend of mine had used it (he didn't have tinnitus), and had very good results. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a shot. To date, it's the only AP I've used that's made me feel like myself again. And the humming in my head has dissipated to the point where I no longer notice it. I still have relapses where the hum surfaces again (like it did last night) for no apparent reason. It will stick around for a couple of days and then fade away again. But being the anxious person that I am, I'm always convinced that the hum will NEVER go away again.

      I'm not suggesting that Lexapro is a cure for tinnitus. In fact, some people have said that AD's make their tinnitus worse. I've never had that happen. My depression also rises and falls, but I've had depression since I was a child. The success I had with Lexapro led me to believe that my tinnitus was psychological, some buried unresolved issue in my subconscious. But that's unlikely. I was in therapy for many years and exhumed plenty of buried crap.

      I haven't even been on this or any other tinnitus board in several years. I didn't want it to continue to be a part of my life or a distraction. But last night was the first time in several years that I had trouble falling asleep because of the humming. It felt like a cancer had returned after being in remission for five years.

      Thank you for reading this long post. I hope others can gain something from it.
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Sorry to hear your humming returned and you are having a hard time. I find your post quite hopeful nevertheless as you were able to find a way to reduce the humming and I believe your situation will improve this time as well.

      Is this new humming result of some peak of depression or anxiety which you might have had lately? Or just coincidence.

      This is one topic that I have thought about, how major role mental issues play regarding tinnitus in general. Especially considering somewhat abnormal tinnitus such as low-frequency hum that comes and goes. It would be interesting to know how many have had some mental issues around the time the onset of tinnitus.

      I can tell when my hum started I had quite a stressful year and I wonder if that had something to do with it.
       
    10. Frayact

      Frayact Member

      Location:
      Greensboro, NC
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Nothing particularly stressful happened the day it returned. In fact, I had gone to the gym, had a good workout, came home, and ate a healthy dinner. Just another boring day. It was a few hours later that I started hearing the hum again. At first it was faint, but then it got louder. It's been almost a week, and it hasn't improved.

      To your point about depression, it definitely plays a part. For the past week, I haven't felt like the old me. My interest in everything has waned, and I feel dread about certain activities I usually relish. It's as if someone turned off all the lights except for one faint bulb that's barely visible. This is why I may contact my doctor to see about switching or supplementing my current medication. I simply cannot go down that dark well of hopelessness again. I don't think I would ever come out. Even though I've suffered from depression most of my life, the tinnitus takes it to a whole other level. In addition to hearing the noise, I can also feel it. There's a vibration between my ears like an electric motor is running.

      I know we're not talking about cancer or other life-threatening diseases, but everyone's pain is their own.
       
    11. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I went to see a GP and she was pretty certain my low hum is a neck and shoulder related issue caused by tight muscles. Especially when I told her I have sometimes mild neck related vertigo and nausea as well and long history of tight shoulder muscles. Those issues comes and goes however.

      I'm a little hesitant whether this is the reason for my hum, but I'm going to see a physical therapist next week.

      Has anyone else found any help to their tinnitus after fixing these issues?
       
    12. Benjaminbb

      Benjaminbb Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Nov 2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely long term noise exposure, combined w pandemic stress
      Sorry I missed this a few weeks back. So you experience trembling/vibrations in other parts of your body and it stops when you put ear protection on? If so, that is super weird. A low vibration just started in my other ear recently, the difference is it sounds the same but feels far more like a physical vibration. Genuinely like something is twitching directly in my ear. It's annoying but a slight hope that it is physical and may resolve.

      The good news for you is quite a few people seem to have had it recover for large periods of time.

      Out of interest, is there a reason you have your normal high frequency tinnitus? What age are you? And how bad is your mild mid frequency loss? If you have spent a lot of time around loud sounds, then I think there's a reasonable chance it could be related. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a hearing test for under 100 Hz and I also found out recently that earplugs barely protect under the 100 Hz.

      That said, low frequencies are far less sensitive, basically vibrational under 100 Hz and have always been assumed to be harder to damage. So it's hard to gauge until we can test down there.

      In terms of using headphones for inhibition, I'd be very careful and wouldn't suggest that because if it is damage related - the inhibition of the symptom (tinnitus) would only temporarily be improved whilst long term being made worse. Especially if you already get a muffled effect.

      This unique inhibition is the one variable that I want to better understand.

      For example, if it was a form of regular tinnitus and simply stopped upon feeding the brain sound, that would be GREAT, however, if it only happens from loud sounds then that's not a great sign - because that could simply be temporary threshold shift.

      If there is already damage there, then it's quite possible the 3 hour drive with 70 dB car hum. Or 80-100 dB bass in a bar (even with earplugs) is doing further damage and not actually helping.

      If you look up temporary threshold shift, it's a common effect of being in loud places where your hearing gets turned down a bit for a few days, and this inhibition might be a bi-product unique to low frequency tinnitus - especially if it is based on the outer hair cells as I mentioned.

      One way to test this would be running a 50 dB low hum YouTube video through a speaker whilst sleeping like I've seen someone else do on here. If it's only for 3 hours while you go to bed it shouldn't cause damage. If you wake up with inhibition then it's quite possible the inhibition isn't a bad sign. I'm keen to start testing this.

      It's been great having periods of no sound after catching up for drinks a few times a week, the more I do it the longer the sound doesn't come back for cumulatively once I stop. This may work differently to yours, but I could quite easily avoid having the hum for as long as I wanted if I just lived my regular social life.

      The flip side is when it is now in both ears at different times, so it's either a coincidence or a sign that things are progressing relatively fast and that potentially the above behaviour is the reason.

      I'm trying to be as real as possible here so we can avoid making it worse whilst trying to better understand the strange symptoms.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Juha

      Juha Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      05/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      To be honest I don't know what has caused my normal high frequency tinnitus. I'm in my thirties and have felt my right ear being quite sensitive to sounds for a very long time. I have been listening to music with headphones a lot over the years and maybe sometimes too loud. Maybe I have damaged my ear by doing so but I have always protected the hearing in music gigs and similar. Nowadays I try to avoid headphones as much as possible.
      This sounds really nice. And you are right that it's different to my hum. I haven't find any activity that would stop it. Few months back the hum disappeared for few days every now and then but I have no clue why. Then it started to be quite constant but would disappear during the night. Lately it has been constant also in the morning and hard to tolerate really. Some days I feel quite desperate.

      One thing that I have noticed though, is when the hum is louder than normal I might be able to decrease the hum volume with stretching the neck and shoulder muscles. But this doesn't stop it, only puts it to the baseline level. So I have wondered if the tight neck and facial muscles amplify the sound, but the origin of the hum is something else than pinched nerve or similar.
       
    14. rumbler

      rumbler Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I've been having the exact same symptoms. Low-frequency tinnitus around 50 Hz that starts every day between 1 pm-4 pm and stops every single night. I can make it go away if I tilt my head at a 45-degree angle to the right or shake my head quickly.

      One doctor diagnosed me with Cochlear Hydrops, but a second said that was totally incorrect. MRI and hearing tests all come back normal.

      What's so strange is that the tinnitus goes away every morning without fail. And then starts every afternoon without fail, no matter what I do, eat, or where I am!
       
    15. Mike TerMaaten

      Mike TerMaaten Member Benefactor

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 20, 2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      2013 GMC Sierra pickup truck
      I have a hum in the right ear that I've been working very hard to have go away. Since February 2021.

      The reason it's the right ear is because of motorcycles and dirt bikes. The muffler is always on the right side.

      My hum goes away every night. It used to return in the morning. Now it stays away til around 11am.

      It has reduced considerably. I know EXACTLY what caused it. And have eliminated those things from my environment / from exposure.

      I can make it fade away at night by taking Magnesium and sitting still and reading.
       
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