Can a person hear a tinnitus (sine wave tone) at a higher frequency than what he can hear in real life?

So let’s look at it this way: Suppose a hearing test determines that you can only hear at 11,000 Hz, but the tinnitus that rings in your ears against your will matches a tone of 13,000.

Some people swear that their tinnitus is at a higher frequency than what they can actually hear externally.

A popular way to check this out is via YouTube, to see if you can match or relate the “ringing” in your ears to the frequency of a steady high tone that plays on YouTube.

The assumption, of course, is that the YouTube uploader has correctly identified the frequency.

If you find a match, you’ll want to see if other YouTube uploads of that same frequency also match, just to make sure.

Of course we don’t know how accurate the YouTube sine wave tones are.

One video may play a tone that’s allegedly at 11,000 Hz and audible to the listener, whereas another 11,000 Hz upload may be undetectable at even the highest computer volume.

Since the sound of tinnitus is created internally inside the patient’s ear, is it possible at all that this can be a higher frequency than his actual hearing?

“The human range for hearing is roughly 20 Hz to 20,000 Hertz, but a typical audiologic evaluation tests 250 Hz to 8,000 Hz,” says Rachel Raphael, M.A., CCC-A, an audiologist with ENT Baltimore.

“Audiometer limitations (usually to 12kHz, but can go higher on some high frequency specialized test equipment) may keep us from matching the true pitch of the tinnitus.”

Here is how typical audiologic evals detect hearing loss if the limit is 8,000 Hz.

Rachel A. Raphael specializes in clinical audiology and hearing aid dispensing. She helps in the diagnosis of hearing loss, tinnitus, dizziness and vestibular pathology in adults and children.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. 


Top image: Shutterstock/Dora Zett