Hearing, Tinnitus and Balance Clinic

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Treating my tinnitus noise with other noise – what is that about?

Perhaps you have heard of “tinnitus maskers” and wondered why we would treat an annoying sound in your head by adding even more sounds to the mix.

“Tinnitus masking” is when other sounds are used to relieve the tinnitus sound.  Environmental sounds can be used, such as water features and fans, or generated sounds, such as white or pink noise being played through a noise generator or hearing device. 

The theory behind tinnitus masking is based on a few principles.

  1. In 1953, the Heller and Bergman study showed that when people were placed in a very quiet sound treated room, almost all of them experienced tinnitus.  This happens because when the ear is not stimulated with sound, the auditory system tries to compensate for it by getting hyperactive, which leads to the perception of sound, or tinnitus.  Therefore, stimulating the ear with additional sounds can help to avoid the hyperactivity, and reduce the tinnitus, especially in quiet situations.    
  2. Having another sound to listen to provides some distraction to the mind from tinnitus.  The maskers mostly reduces the contrast and intensity of the tinnitus, or sometimes even masks the tinnitus completely while it is played. 
  3. Music can be relaxing.  Stress only makes tinnitus worse, therefore soothing sounds such as zen music or ocean wave sounds can relieve tinnitus as it relaxes the subconscious mind while stimulating the ear.    

Sound therapy can be valuable as part of tinnitus therapy, but it is extremely important to receive additional Tinnitus Retraining Therapy counselling, otherwise the tinnitus may just reappear when the masking sound is switched off.  So be sure to receive comprehensive tinnitus treatment for best results.

Contact us for expert advice on sound therapy and tinnitus treatment.

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