Should I Mask My Tinnitus?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Michael Leigh, Oct 9, 2016.

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    1. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Should I mask my tinnitus?

      Tinnitus is a complex condition and if hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound) is present it is even more. Many newbies have difficulty coping with tinnitus and understandably, getting rid of this constant intruder, that has suddenly invaded their life becomes paramount on their mind. In an attempt to do this, they will usually try every means possible to distract themselves from the tinnitus which will include masking it completely with another sound so that it can’t be heard.

      However, tinnitus is quite resilient, any attempts to mask it completely are usually unsuccessful. As soon as the masking sound is removed or stopped temporarily, the brain will immediately focus back on it and often, it appears to be louder and more intrusive. This causes stress especially for someone new to tinnitus. For anyone that doesn’t know, the more stressed we are the tinnitus becomes more intrusive, and the louder the tinnitus is the more stressed we are. It can become a vicious circle.

      Anyone that is seasoned to tinnitus and has habituated, knows that trying to mask it completely so that it can’t be heard is not achievable. A much better way and preferred method that Hearing Therapists advise tinnitus patients, is to use sound enrichment. One can use music or nature sounds from a sound machine and set the volume slightly below the tinnitus. By doing this, the brain over time will learn to no longer see the tinnitus as a threat and gradually push the noise further into the background giving it less importance, which is called habituation.

      In-ear or BTE (behind the ear) white noise generators can also be used as part of TRT. They do a similar thing. By setting the volume slightly below the tinnitus, over time the brain habituates to the white noise and gradually pushes the tinnitus further into the background.

      Michael

      PS: in my opinion, anyone that has tinnitus, especially when it was caused by loud noise exposure, it is not a good idea to use headphones, even at low volume to play music or white noise for sound enrichment.
       
      Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
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    2. James
      No Mood

      James Member Benefactor

      Location:
      California
      Tinnitus Since:
      Pulsing 03/2013
      Well said Michael. I would agree. I'm going to play my Bird Songs of the Northwoods cd right now. I like it. No headphones for me either.
       
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @James
      Thank you James and best of luck using your nature sounds.
      Michael
       
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    4. wanda evans

      wanda evans Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      age related hearing loss
      I'm wondering how behind the ear devices are different than headphones? Are these like hearing aids where a small speaker rests in the ear canal? And do you mean all headphones or just earbuds? Are over the ear headphones different? I'm trying to sort out my options btw, not trying to be argumentative.
       
    5. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @wanda evans
      Thank you for not being argumentative. The subject of headphones and tinnitus usually stirs up quite a storm in tinnitus forums.

      BTE: Behind the ear white noise generators look identical to hearing aids. The main body of the WNGs rests behind the ear and a thin plastic tube is connected to it. The tube raps over the ear and the end rests in the ear canal.

      It is just my personal opinion. Anyone that has tinnitus, especially if it was caused by exposure to loud noise shouldn’t listen to any kind of audio even at low volume through: headphones, earbuds, over-the-ear headphones and sleepPhones. I know some people do and have no adverse affects and that’s fine. However, many people have contacted me to say their tinnitus has got worse after listening to audio through headphones even at low volume.

      Some ENT doctors tell their tinnitus patients that it’s fine to listen to music through headphones as long as the volume is kept low. While other ENT doctors disagree. I respect ENT doctors for their medical knowledge of the ear, but the majority of them have never experienced intrusive tinnitus and therefore have no understanding of it, or the danger that some people with tinnitus, risk when listening to music through headphones.

      Michael
       
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    6. Michael B

      Michael B Member

      I would disagree with your opinion of headphones unless of course you're referring to earphones. Earphones has limited dynamic range and I'm sure caused my tinnitus.
       
    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Michael B
      That is entirely your choice and you are entitled to that. I don't advocate the use of any type of earphone, headphone etc for people that have tinnitus. This is my opinion, the same as you have yours.
      Michael
       
      Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
    8. Michael B

      Michael B Member

      I sense a degree of defensiveness in your reply. To that I apologize for responding.
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      @Michael B
      Your comment has made me smile. There is no need to apologize, for it would be a very boring world if everyone agreed with each other. I respect your point of view and I don’t see anything wrong in voicing that opinion. As we say in the UK: “ It’s water off a duck's back…”
      Michael
       

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