For years, there have been reported incidents around the world of people hearing a strange “humming” sound of unknown origin. At best, this sound is annoying, and at its worst, it can be downright maddening. But there is one strange thing about this horrible noise: most people can’t hear it.
“The Hum” has taken on many names according to the regions where it can be heard, including the Bristol Hum (South England) and the Taos Hum (New Mexico). But no matter where you are, if you are part of the 2% of the population who can hear it, The Hum just won’t leave you alone.
The Hum is usually heard indoors, and it’s more audible at night. Humming reports are uncommon in urban areas, likely because crowded cities tend to have consistent background noise that would drown out The Hum.
According to a 2003 study by acoustical consultant Geoff Leventhall, of the roughly two percent of people that can hear the sound, most of them are between the ages of 55 and 70.
Some people hear The Hum throughout the day, while others only hear it occasionally. Similarly, some people hear it more strongly than others. It can be so annoying that it can interfere with one’s day-to-day life, and has even been blamed for at least one suicide.
Headaches, nausea, dizziness, nosebleeds, and sleep disturbances have all been reported by those suffering from The Hum.
Some physicians say the hum could be a sign of tinnitus, which means that those people hear sounds that do not exist. However, this seems unlikely when considering that The Hum is only heard in certain geographical locations.
Another medical explanation is that The Hum could be autoacoustic emissions, sounds that are generated by one’s own inner ear.
There still hasn’t been a definitive, satisfying explanation for this phenomenon, and the closest thing we have to a “cure” is drowning out the sound with music. Right now, your best bet is to just put on some headphones and drown it out… or risk going mad.