by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.

A lady wrote,

About a year ago I started hearing low-frequency noise. I have had tinnitus for years. This is different. I only hear it in my home, my husband doesn’t hear it at all. I hear it in every room in the house. It seems to come through the walls. The sounds I hear are akin to a laboring engine outside my room. I also feel vibration along with the noise.

Last night I went to empty the washing machine, as I thought it was spinning. Sometimes I think it’s an extractor fan. Sometimes it’s an echo—kind of an underwater sound. Last year the water company tunneled along a few roads from us, and I am sure I heard that. Environmental men have checked with a sound monitor, nothing showed up.

You are not alone in hearing strange, phantom, low-frequency rumbling sounds. This is a form of Musical Ear Syndrome (MES). A number of people hear what sounds like trucks idling outside their bedroom windows or bulldozers working there. The interesting thing is that, like you, they also often feel the vibrations from these phantom trucks and machinery. When two of your five senses tell you something is occurring, it is hard to believe that it is all in your head. I too, know what that is like as I have similar experiences from time to time.

When you were in the vicinity, you may have heard the low-frequency sounds of the water company tunneling under the road. If you did, your brain would have stored it in your memory banks. Now and then, your MES kicks in and replays it for you so you hear it—or a similar kind of sound again—(and again, and again). The very fact that the sound monitor didn’t pick up any sounds is further proof that what you are hearing is phantom.

You just have to learn how to tell what is real and what is phantom, then ignore the phantom sounds. I just look out the window. If there are no trucks or machinery around, then I know the sounds are all phantom and I can safely ignore them.

If you want to learn more about Musical Ear Syndrome and what you can do about it, see my book Phantom Voices, Ethereal Music & Other Spooky Sounds.