The vast majority of people with tinnitus have sounds which are heard only by them (subjective tinnitus). There is however, a small group of people who hear sounds heard by others. They suffer from what is called objective tinnitus. The sounds are usually the result of blood flow in narrowed atherosclerotic arteries which causes a sound like a liquid that flows with force from the mouth of a tube. Sometimes abnormalities in the veins or malformations or benign tumors that grow in or near the ear can cause the same vibrant and blowing-like sound, which may be audible with a stethoscope to be placed over the carotid artery and / or jugular vein in the neck. Once, a woman went to the clinic because her dog constantly lifted his ears and listened to her right ear. As shown, the patient had a carotid stenosis and high frequency sounds produced by passage of blood from a narrowed carotid artery could be heard by the dog!
Sounds that are heard as a “click” may occur in the ear and seem to originate from abnormal micro contractions (like tic) of the muscles of the palate (palatal myoclonus) or the muscles of the middle ear. This phenomenon is similar to a facial tic when some of the muscles contract, but in this case the proximity of affected muscles in the ear makes the contraction audible. Some surgeons have tried to treat these “clicks”, which can be particularly troublesome to the sufferer, cutting the muscles of the middle ear, but this technique is rarely effective.
Patients whose sounds are vibrant and can be heard by others, describe what they hear with a huge variety of ways including as a rattle, whinny, buzzer and probably in every possible sound that has been described. These sounds can be found just outside the ear, in one or the other ear or around the head. This type of tinnitus is called subjective and is the most common type of situation.