Headphones and Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Nov 19, 2015.

tinnitus forum
    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Headphones and Tinnitus.

      The views on whether a person with tinnitus should listen to music through headphones are controversial. Some people show no adverse affects while others do even when the volume level is kept low.

      As I have already mentioned we are all different so the only way a one can know is to experiment for themselves if they want to. In my opinion, when the tinnitus was caused by exposure to loud noise/music and it has become intrusive - by this I mean a person having to seek help at ENT, then they shouldn’t listen to music through headphones no matter how low the volume is set.

      Most music has syncopation throughout its frequency range, so it’s constantly changing in pitch, rhythm and timbre. The beat of the music and volume can also change while listening. This evokes pleasure and can stir our emotions. This happens whether we listen to music loud or soft, although certain types of music does sound better played at a higher volume than others, and vice versa.

      Once the Cochlear in the inner ear becomes damaged by noise exposure, it is much more sensitive to sound. This is one of the reasons hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound) is often experienced with noise-induced tinnitus. The wearing of WNGs (white noise generators) as part of TRT treatment can often cure the condition. I will be covering Hyperacusis and Habituation in more detail later on.

      The organ of the Corti, which is attached to the Cochlear, has approximately 20,000 hair
      cells. These hair cells move to the vibration of sound and are just one of the components in the auditory system that enable us to hear. Someone that already has a sensitive auditory system due to noise-induced tinnitus and listens to music through headphones at a low volume, risks irritating the Cochlear further; this can make the tinnitus louder and more intrusive.

      In my opinion, it can be misleading when some health professionals tell tinnitus patients, listening to music through headphones is fine as long as long as the volume is kept low. These health professionals mean well and know a lot about the anatomy of the ear and therefore, it is not my intention to try and undermine their abilities or expertise. However, It must be said, that many of them have never experienced intrusive tinnitus. This leads me to say, one of my ENT consultant’s who is an Audiovestubular consultant, and someone that I have a lot of respect for, once told me that I know more about tinnitus than she/he. This person explained, for the simple reason they had never experienced it.

      I have spoken to many people and corresponded with them by email and at Internet forums, complaining their tinnitus has become worse because after listening to music through headphones even though the volume was kept low.

      My advice to anyone that has tinnitus that was caused by exposure to loud noise is not to listen to music through headphones, as the auditory system is more sensitive. However the choice is entirely up to them.

      Michael
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
      • Informative Informative x 1
    2. Sound Wave
      Curious

      Sound Wave Member Benefactor Team Tech

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably headphones
      As you say, this is just your opinion. In my opinion scientific research from all the benefits of music far outweigh your opinion.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Phil-O

      Phil-O Member

      Location:
      Lancashire UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Hi @Michael Leigh
      I will be covering Hyperacusis and Habituation in more detail later on. Thanks. Have you any thoughts on age related hearing loss in the higher frequencies I understand to be > 8000khz. Thanks Phil
       
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Hi Phil,

      With the advancement in age hearing does decrease and with it tinnitus is some times associated. This is because the brain cannot hear certain frequencies, mostly in the frequency bandwidth that you mention. To compensate for the hearing loss the brain turns up its internal gain, rather like the volume on an amplifier. In doing so this can create tinnitus. Fortunately, once someone is fitted with a hearing aid/s the brain’s over time lowers its internal gain and thus tinnitus is reduced making it less noticeable.

      Michael.
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    5. StayTrue28

      StayTrue28 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure
      Hi Michael,

      Reviving an old thread. I thought there would be a way to send you a private message on this site.

      What would you suggest for ear protection/earphones/earplugs when flying? I'm preparing for a trip and quite concerned about the flight. I want to be able to protect my ears but still be able to plug in to watch a movie/tv or listen to music. My T is from a loud event.
      Thanks
       
    6. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      I'd love to hear the rationale behind this, because I don't get it. When a sound wave hits your ear drum (and starts the process of hearing), why does it matter how it was generated? Whether it was a headphone, or a speaker 50 yards away: if it's the same wave hitting your ear drum, doesn't everything past the eardrum behave the same way?
       
      • Good Question Good Question x 2
    7. Gailjones

      Gailjones Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2006
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Flu virus and loud venue
      I use the plugs from boots designed specially for the flight and air pressures and these work well.?
       
    8. PaulBe

      PaulBe Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Cairns
      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2013
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Probably sound, though never proven
      We noted on a past thread that the difference between headphones and speakers 50 meters away is diffusion. The headphone delivers the lot right to your eardrum whereas the speaker diffuses the sound over a greater distance, with more components of the sound energy being absorbed by other things in the space, thus reducing the net energy load on your eardrum, thus on your hearing mechanism beyond the drum.
       
    9. GregCA
      Crappy

      GregCA Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      To account for that, you adjust the volume of the headphone, so that it matches what you'd be hearing if it was from the speaker (in terms of "net energy load on your eardrum" - to quote your terminology). Nobody is saying it would be the same on your eardrum if both sources were transmitting with the same amount of power, as we know the power dissipates with the distance squared.

      You do have flexibility in choosing your volume when using headphones.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    10. Angelo P
      Alienated

      Angelo P Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      high pitch hearing loss
      Hi Michael, I just recently developed T. for 8-9 years I was listening to music with earbuds while working out usually for about 75-90 minutes. i feel that this is what caused the T to come on since 08/03/2016. Every day with no break. Just a few days sprinkled here and there with low volume. Went to 3 ENTs, MRI of brain, bloodwork for lymes disease. Only thing found was slight hearing loss in high frequency range of 8000-9000 range. I use earbuds when doing yard work with extremely low volume. i will take your advice though. BTW, should we be listening to enriched sounds through external speakers to improve our habituation?
      Hopefully you'll respond. Tanks
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Angelo P

      Hi Angelo P
      I agree with you that listening to music through your earbuds probably caused the tinnitus. Unfortunately, many people do not realize how loud they are listening to music through them until they experience the symptoms of tinnitus. I advise you not to listen to music through them again even at low volume.

      Sound enrichment is good for anyone that has tinnitus, during the day and especially at night. Some people like listening to music but it isn’t always the best source for nighttime use as it draws the brain’s attention, so nature sounds are usually best. Music is fine to fill in the background ambiance in the day.

      I have written an article titled: An Introduction to tinnitus that you might find helpful, please click on the link below.

      Michael
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/an-introduction-to-tinnitus.12100/
       
    12. Mahr
      Tired

      Mahr Member Benefactor

      Location:
      The Netherlands
      Tinnitus Since:
      2011
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown, probably hair cell damage
      I prefer over ear headphones over in ear earbuds. In ear send the music directly into your ear to the eardrum. More chance of damaging the drum I think. (and yeah, ofcourse it depends on the volume)
       

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