In-Ear Maskers vs. AirPods Pro or Other Earbuds

Discussion in 'Support' started by GBB, Nov 5, 2020.

    1. GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      Is there any significant difference between an in-ear masker provided by an audiologist versus a high-quality earbud? Although generally, I think both could risk exacerbating tinnitus, I'm curious if there is a difference from a hardware perspective that makes a masker less risky.
       
      • Good Question Good Question x 3
    2. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      HI @GBB

      I advise you not to use earbuds no matter how good they are and play white or pink noise through them into the ear. They are nothing like proper white noise generators that you are calling in-ear-masker. Masker is old terminology is no longer used today because tinnitus should never be masked. The white noise should be set lower than the tinnitus and not masking or covering up the tinnitus so it can't be heard. If you do this two things are likely to haven: You risk making the tinnitus worse and secondly your brain will never learn to habituate to the tinnitus if it cannot hear it.

      Please read the post below which is a segment taken from a longer post that I wrote about: Headphones, earbuds and white noise generators. I advise you never to use headphones, earbuds or headset even at low volume.

      I wish you well.
      Michael

      White noise generators and Hearing aids.


      Some people question the use of white noise generators and hearing aids and believe they are the same as headphones or earbuds, this is not the case. White noise generators and hearing aids don’t usually irritate the auditory system due to the volume being kept low and its frequency range remains constant, so there is no syncopation within it unlike music. In addition to this the sound is delivered through a small plastic tube that wraps over the back of the ear and enters the entrance to the ear canal. At the end of the tube there is a tiny aperture/hole where sound emits.

      Headphones and earbuds use a large speaker/diaphragm in comparison to emit sound into the ear. Compared to white noise generators and hearing aids, the sound is crude, unregulated and can cause irritation.

      Although white noise generators can be bought privately to treat tinnitus and hyperacusis, I don’t advise anyone to do so, unless a Hearing Therapist/Audiologist has first tested their auditory system for suitability. A person must also be shown how to use these devices correctly, as improper use can make the tinnitus worse. Furthermore, they are normally used in conjunction with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy to get optimum results.

      I also don't advise listening to white noise, pink noise, brown, noise etc through headphones even at low volume. It is best to always be under the care of an Audiologist/Hearing Therapist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis treatment and management.
       
    3. Chinmoku

      Chinmoku Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Started with a cold, possibly worsened by medication/noise
      Good question, I always wondered as well. I have been provided with hearing aids with white noise functionality by a top London hospital. They exacerbate my tinnitus even when I follow the audiologist suggestion to play them under the tinnitus level. After I used the aids even for one hour the tinnitus became elevated and over time it kept worsening, so I stopped using the aids after a few weeks of continued worsening. The effect for me is identical to that of white noise played with headphones, it irritated my tinnitus in exactly the same way. This is not to say that there are no differences. My impression is that the earbuds and headphones emit sound from a larger area, whereas the aids are very localized and so perhaps more precise. Having said that, I haven't been helped by either and I suspect that for some types of tinnitus hearing aids with white noise don't help but can make things worse.

      On a side note my tinnitus is > 11 kHz and hearing aids only act up to 8 kHz so there is that too to consider. They won't help you your hearing loss above 8 kHz and so it's not clear to me how helpful they can be for tinnitus that is high pitched. Perhaps they are, Michael above is quite experienced and has clearly seen cases where they work. Unfortunately they didn't work for me.
       
    4. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      Fair points, thanks for taking the time to respond.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      GBB

      GBB Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      NYC
      Tinnitus Since:
      2016-2019 (Mild, Cured) 8/2020 (Severe)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Virus / Microsuction / Acoustic Trauma
      Thanks for sharing your experience. It sounds like anything in the ear risks irritation, which is unfortunate, but valuable to know!
       
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