Since We're Supposed to Stop Using Headphones, Can You Play Music and Podcasts Through Hearing Aids?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Mr_Orange_3737, Apr 8, 2021.

    1. Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      So I've been reading these forums for a bit now and it seems like the concept of not using headphones even at low volumes has been brought up many times. I've also read that hearing aids deliver sound in a different way that's safer for your ears.

      I think there's a major point that needs to be elaborated on here.

      Can you play music, listen to podcasts, and watch movies through hearing aids? In other words, do they have the ability to process any type of sounds you'd like to stream through them into a safe audible output? Or are hearing aids only capable of delivering it's own pre-installed masking sounds safely?

      I've been working from home since the start of COVID-19 but my workplace is probably going to have us going back to the office cubicles soon. My tinnitus started this summer so I've never had to deal with it in the office yet. At home, the only way I've been getting through the day is to play music, podcasts, and masking sounds through speakers all day. I won't be able to once I'm back in the cubicle.
       
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    2. wwtsai
      Assassinator

      wwtsai Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Location:
      San Francisco
      Tinnitus Since:
      Mild (2016) Bothersome (8/20)
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      SNHL
      Most hearing aids these days have Bluetooth connectivity so you can connect to your phone, tablet, or TV and take calls, listen to music, and watch movies through them.
       
    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      My advice to anyone that has noise induced tinnitus is not to use headphones even at low volume. This is advice and not absolute, as some people with noise induced tinnitus use headphones without any problems but unfortunately many do face problems. Type headphones into the search box at the top of this page, and you will see posts from members that regret using headphones. People that do not have noise induced tinnitus are not so easily affected by headphones. This is what I have noticed at tinnitus groups and those that have contacted me for help with tinnitus.

      I have corresponded with some Audiologists that have noise induced tinnitus, who advise their patients with noise induced tinnitus not to use headphones or earbuds even at low volume. Some people question the use of white noise generators and hearing aids and believe they are the same as headphones and earbuds but this is not the case. White noise generators and hearing aids don’t usually irritate the auditory system as 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 where sound emits.

      Some dual purpose hearing aids with white noise generators have the ability to stream music and podcasts via Bluetooth. Due to the small aperture where sound emits problems do not usually occur but I still advise caution, if a person has noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis with their hearing loss.
      Please remember tinnitus should not be masked, by this I mean covered up with a sound so it cannot be heard. If you do this your brain will find it more difficult to habituate to the tinnitus. Set the sound known as sound enrichment slightly below the tinnitus so it's not masking it.

      Michael

      New to Tinnitus, What to Do? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
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    4. MBH

      MBH Member

      Location:
      Upstate NY
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Overloaded stress
      I'm old school, I listen to music on a radio. No headphones & earphones.
       
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    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      So I hear the term 'noise induced tinnitus' brought up many times but I'm still not totally sure what it means. Here's what I think it means: It's someone whose tinnitus starts after a loud sound (like an explosion) but still has normal hearing according to an audiogram (therefore you can't conclude that their tinnitus is strongly associated with hearing loss which is a different category of tinnitus). Since loud sound was the thing that started it all, the idea is that you should be extra careful to avoid any experiences with loud sustained sound for fear of delaying any potential recovery or even making the tinnitus permanently louder. For instance, you'll notice with certain topics on theses forums like MRI scans, people will bring up that you need to be especially concerned if you have 'noise induced tinnitus'. Another example is going to the dentist.

      Is this correct?

      So, for me, I don't know if I fall into this category because I'm one of the ones who got tinnitus after syringing, not a loud sound. I do, however, have a mild degree of hyperacusis (always improving) and my tinnitus does seem somewhat reactive (briefly louder after a shower). Would you consider me as someone who should be just as cautious someone with 'noise induced tinnitus'?

      Also, Michael, another thing I hear you mention is the use of 'white noise generator hearing aids' to treat hyperacusis.

      1) Do regular hearing aids have this functionality or is this a very particular type of 'hyperacusis hearing aid'? Because hearing aids are so expensive, it'd be nice if I can kill two birds with one stone and have this one device handle my hyperacusis first and then be used for sound enrichment afterwards.

      2) By white noise, are you referring to the same white noise sound option that's on the Sound Oasis for instance? There seems to be a ubiquitous kind of white noise (even if you search on YouTube) that sort of sounds like fuzzy static. Is this more or less the same kind of sound used to treat hyperacusis? Can I get a head start my hyperacusis treatment by just playing white noise through speakers (usually crickets and higher pitch sounds work better for my tinnitus)? Or is this 'white noise' you refer to something that has to be very particularly programmed for each individual?
       
    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      The most common cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud noise and is also known as noise induced tinnitus. It can be brought on by sudden exposure to loud sound as you have described in your post, or develop more slowly by regularly using headphones, headsets, earbuds and Airpods for long durations and at too high a volume. People that listen to loud music through speakers, attend clubs, concerts where loud music is played or work in a noisy environment can also develop the condition. Having an oversensitivity to sound, a condition known as Hyperacusis often accompanies the condition but not always. The wearing of earplugs is no guarantee one's hearing will be protected - if external sound is loud enough it will pass through the head and transfer to the inner ear by bone conduction and irritate the cochlea.

      Tinnitus caused by an underlying medical condition examples are: Meniere's disease, Otosclerosis, TMJ, Pulsatile tinnitus and hearing loss are different from noise induced tinnitus. I do not mean they are less severe than noise induced tinnitus but they don't usually cause noise trauma to the auditory system and hence, most people do not develop acute oversensitivity to sound or hyperacusis. This is one of the reasons I believe they are not so easily affected by headphones.
      According to my Hearing Therapist and ENT doctor I have a severe form of noise induced tinnitus. I regularly attend the dentist and have had root canal work more than once without affecting my tinnitus. I have had Microsuction on three occasions and MRI without any problems. I understand the reasons some people with noise induced tinnitus, that may also have hyperacusis choose to be careful. However, I think some people (not all) psych themselves up which can quickly increase stress an will have a direct impact on the tinnitus by making it louder without them realizing it. My post: Hyperacusis, As I see it, explains in more detail.
      Some people develop tinnitus after having their ears syringed or having microsuction. Therefore, it is important to apply eardrops/olive oil 3x a day to each ear 7 to 10 days, to thoroughly loosen the wax before having it removed. Hopefully this will reduce the risk of problems occurring. If you are experiencing oversensitivity to sounds, it might be good idea to keep the volume low as possible through headphones and earbuds if you intend to use them.
      Some hearing aids known as dual-purpose devices incorporate a white noise generator. Speak to an Audiologist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis treatment for more information.

      White noise generators treat tinnitus and hyperacusis and should be used as part of TRT with a Hearing Therapist or Audiologist practicing the treatment. Please go to my started threads and read my posts on TRT treatment, which explains the use of white noise generators in detail.

      The sound of white noise through white noise generators that are worn behind the ear or in-ear types, sound completely different to white noise heard at Youtube, through speakers, headphones or earbuds. White noise generators sound smooth and regulated and will not irritate the ears. White noise from speakers and headphones sound crude and abrasive.

      Michael

      Hyperacusis, As I See It | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      1) Have you tried to play music or podcasts through your hearing aids? Or has anyone else tried it? I'm curious if the sound quality difference is noticeable in the same way you say the white noise sounds different. Since developing hyperacusis, I myself have actually noticed quite a lot of difference in degrees of irritation in different types of speakers and even in different types of voices. Putting my phone on speakerphone sounds the absolute worst for instance and immediately increases my tinnitus, where the speaker on my TV is much more pleasant.

      2) It seems like you've addressed these issues quite a lot on these boards. Has anyone ever brought up any type of earbud or headphone (maybe some high end audiophile type ones) that has comparable sound quality/safety to that of a hearing aid? I'd be surprised if there isn't with so many earbud choices out there. Even if there's something that's sort of close that I can use in the meantime while I decide which hearing aid to get. I'm going to be back in the office in about a month.

      I've already been use to playing sounds to speakers at low volumes.

      3) There's been reviews of specific hearing aids posted on these boards. Do you mind mentioning the brand and model of the type of hearing aids you use?

      Thanks for clarifying some of these points Michael. Super helpful!
       
    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I do not have any noticeable hearing loss according to my Hearing Therapist so don't use hearing aids. I use white noise generators whenever I feel the need as my tinnitus fluctuates a lot. It can be completely silent, moderate or severe.

      Some of the tinnitus groups I attend, people have mentioned listening to music and podcasts through their Bluetooth hearing aids. A few have mentioned it has caused their tinnitus to increase due to the fact I believe they have noise induced tinnitus and perhaps hyperacusis. This is the risk I am talking about if one chooses to play audio into the ears and they have noise induced tinnitus with or without hyperacusis. By contrast I have noticed some people that don't have noise induced tinnitus but instead have tinnitus caused by hearing loss; use Bluetooth hearing aids and listen to music and podcasts and report no increase in their tinnitus.
      My main interests are noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis. These conditions can affect a person's mental and emotional wellbeing considerably. I have had noise induced tinnitus for many years and once had very severe hyperacusis that was completely cured with TRT and using white noise generators for 2 years. This experience has enabled me to correspond with many people at tinnitus groups and offer counselling periodically by telephone.
      I am an Audiophile and get the impression you are too? If this is the case my advice is to give your ears a rest and wait for your hyperacusis to improve before using headphones or earbuds. Some people have mentioned Widex hearing aids to be of good quality and enables Bluetooth connection to listen to music and podcasts. You might find my post below of interest titled: Does your system sing? I used to use high-end headphones that gave me tinnitus 25 years ago because I listened at too high a volume without realizing it. I have never used headphones since and have no need to, as my audio system is of high quality that no headphones in my opinion can replicate. The wide open three dimensional soundstage my system creates fills me with immense pleasure each time I listen to music.
      As mentioned I don't use hearing aids but Widex and Oticon brands are good. My white noise generators are made by Oticon.

      Thank you for your kind comments.

      All the best

      Michael

      Will My Tinnitus Get Worse? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Does Your Hi-Fi System Sing? | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    9. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      Sounds like the jury's still out on whether playing music and podcasts is okay with hearing aids.

      I still need to get hearing aids though because I'll at the very least need to use the masking sounds throughout the day. Going to at least try and see if I can find an empty private room somewhere in office first. It would be a much cheaper solution.

      I find that music and podcasts are a much better distraction than masking sounds. If my tinnitus gets louder, I'll often play a masking sound at a very low volume while the podcast plays. I draw and build 3D models all day so I can still get my work done too.

      One of my earlier ENTs mentioned that hearing aids which just play masking sounds are cheaper than ones that have the amplification functionality. She wasn't sure though. Can anyone confirm if this is true? Michael, is this what you're referring to by the Oticon white noise generators? Is it just a hearing aid model with the amplification stripped away to lower the cost?

      Thanks for the brand recommendations btw. Widex seems to be one that keeps getting positive feedback.

      The hearing loss issue is interesting for me. Of the many ENTs and audiologists I spoke to, half of them are convinced that even though my hearing is in the normal range, the small dip in the 3-4 kHz range of my audiogram must be the cause of my tinnitus. One audiologist said he's willing to try and target that dip with amplification and also combine some masking sounds to treat it. They mentioned that there's a free trial period too. So I'm going to see if amplification does anything for me.

      I've had tinnitus and hyperacusis since August 2020. My hyperacusis has improved quite a lot since then but my tinnitus has basically stayed the same. The hyperacusis at its worst in October 2020 made a lot of people sound like they were shouting at me when they were just speaking normally. Now, I get much more subtle symptoms like the irritation from speakerphones for instance. Even clanking dishes are mostly tolerable. I wonder if I even need to do the white noise generator therapy for the hyperacusis or if it looks like I'm already on the right track to improvement.

      I'm not an audiophile but I work in industrial design and have occasionally done some earbud and headphone projects.

      I'll check out your articles. Thanks!
       
    10. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      If you have impaired hearing then you should wear hearing aids otherwise the brain will increase its background activity and will also increase the tinnitus. Please remember tinnitus must not be masked.
      Hearing aids provide additional sound to the brain and auditory system they do not supply masking sounds. Again, tinnitus should not be masked.
      My Oticon white noise generators are actually dual-purpose hearing aids with white noise fitted. My Audiologist disabled the hearing aids since I don't have hearing loss via computer when I was fitted with the devices, so they only function as white noise generators.
      I do not wish to interfere with your treatment plan since you are under the care of an Audiologist. However, I disagree with what you have been advised. I think you should only be using hearing aids and forget about streaming music and Podcasts to the devices since your hyperacusis is improving by itself. I also disagree with your Audiologist wanting to amplify a masking sound to target the 3-4 kHz dip in hearing you mention, as I believe there's a risk of irritation and making your tinnitus and hyperacusis worse.

      It is right that you are fitted with correct hearing aid(s) if your hearing is impaired. If you intend using white noise within the hearing aid(s) then set this below the tinnitus without increasing the volume to target the hyperacusis as some Audiologists have advised their patients, that have noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis.

      Unfortunately, this often makes the conditions worse. People have contacted me having been told this. When I have suggested to turn off the white noise and allow the ears to get used to the hearing aids for around 2 to 4 weeks; then slowly introduce the white noise as instructed in my TRT articles but to always keep the sound below the tinnitus, they have contacted me saying they no longer experience irritation. Over time this has resulted in the tinnitus and hyperacusis improving.

      Michael
       
    11. FGG
      No Mood

      FGG Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multi-factorial
      I personally wouldn't play music/podcasts through your hearing aids with hyperacusis but I agree with your audiologist and think a mild amplification of the 3-4 kHz dip could help your tinnitus, though.

      I wonder if you can get something like a desk waterfall for your cubicle to help mask.
       
    12. Jack Straw
      Balanced

      Jack Straw Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990s
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection, Acoustic Trauma
      This is not true. They are the exact same thing. Please provide scientific evidence if you disagree.

      Bluetooth Earbuds vs. Hearing Aids

      There is literally ZERO scientific evidence to suggest that headphones at low volume cause damage. I know people think otherwise on here, but there is no proof of it. Sound is sound. Whether it comes from a speaker or comes from an external sound source it is all the same. The danger of damage comes from how loud the sound is. 120 decibels from a headphone is just as damaging as 120 decibels from a gunshot. Equally, 30 decibels from headphones is just as safe as 30 decibels from someone whispering.

      I have no idea where this low volume headphone paranoia came from. It makes no sense. Every ENT I have spoken to has agreed that it is safe. The key is to keep it at a low volume and not turn it up when external sounds start to become louder.

      The only reason I think people have issues with headphones comes from noise canceling devices. Noise canceling headphones play sounds that you can't hear to make external sounds. You can't control how loud this masking sound is AND you can't even really hear it. Hence I suspect that people are more likely to damage their hearing at low volumes with noise canceling headphones than regular ones. This is because these masking sounds could be at damaging levels and you don't even notice it. Another theory is that these masking sounds are aggravating people's tinnitus because they are not everyday sounds. They can be super high pitched or low pitched to mask things and we know certain high pitched sounds aggravate people's tinnitus.

      So to answer your question, low volume headphone use is not damaging as long as it is low. There is no scientific evidence to saw otherwise. Noise canceling headphones are a different story.
       
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    13. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      Michael, to clarify, the audiologist's idea was not to amplify a masking sound. He said he wants to try a combination of amplification + masking sounds or maybe even one or the other. Just depends on what works.

      I've actually picked up on what you said about not fully masking and using the concept of "sound enrichment" instead very early on when reading theses forums and have been following it very vigilantly. So no worries, I understand what you're saying. The audiologist I spoke to also seemed to have the same idea about masking sounds too saying that it must be played at low volumes. The only time my tinnitus is truly fully masked is when driving in my van (yes, my tinnitus is pretty mild). I can hear my tinnitus in other newer cars though that seem to be more sound proofed.
      FGG, do you have personal experience with this idea of mild amplification? Let me show you my audiogram because as you can see, the dip is truly very minute. But some of these ENTs and audiologists say that this does count as something that could cause tinnitus.

      audiogram.JPG
      Jack, thanks for the feedback. I definitely agree that volume is a factor but I do wonder if sound quality makes a difference. I've noticed more irritation when playing sounds through my laptop speakers and especially through my phone, then say the higher quality speakers on my TV or even an iMac computer. There's certain people's voices when listening to podcasts (especially if someone's voice is raspy) that also cause irritation and I always have to make sure I play those ones through my TV or even go outside with my laptop to make sure the sound gets dispersed. When I get on a speakerphone call, I have to play a low volume masking sound in the background to tolerate it (or go outside).

      It seems like there's definitely more factors at play.

      The more I talk about this, I wonder if hyperacusis is the key difference maker here.

      Jack, do you have hyperacusis as well?

      You've already mentioned that the 'noise canceling' feature is something to avoid. Are there other types of headphone features/standards that may be beneficial perhaps?

      And yes, I'm going to vigilant about keeping the volumes low no matter what I use. I've already been doing that with my speakers.
       
    14. FGG
      No Mood

      FGG Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multi-factorial
      Hyperacusis can definitely be affected by speaker quality. It seems that speakers that put out more HF artifact seem to trigger a lot of hyperacusis sufferers. Considering that you have also noticed a difference, I'm wondering if you have more damage in the higher frequencies that might show up on an extended high frequency (8 kHz-16 kHz) audiogram.

      You could still try very mild amplification of the 3 kHz-4 kHz range just to see if it helped in the meantime (a lot of places don't offer EHF audiograms) as long as it didn't aggravate your hyperacusis. Some people have really good success with hearing aids even with mild amplification and most places offer a free trial period.
       
    15. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      Yes, I've been planning to get the EHF audiogram. My tinnitus gets masked better by things like crickets, bird chirps, bells, and other higher pitched noises so it would make sense. However, some of those YouTube masking videos that target 'ultra high frequency tinnitus' seem a big excessive to me. So maybe not.

      I hope mines isn't badly damaged too high though because I heard that hearing aids can only provide amplification up to a certain range.

      By the way, I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the use of equalizer apps to filter sound in a way that's more tolerable. I downloaded one earlier on my computer when my hyperacusis was bad and it did help even when using some of the presets. The interface was pretty technical though so you'd have to find someone who knows what they're doing if you're going to try anything more specific.

      I wonder if you can block out the HF artifacts you mentioned with an equalizer app.
       
    16. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      Hi, I've had tinnitus since 1999, severely since 2010, I use open-backed headphones on a regular basis, and noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones a bit less frequently. I stick to low volumes, pay attention to ear fatigue, and have noticed no problems, spikes, worsening etc as a result.

      I don't believe the line about hearing aids "delivering sound in a different way", how exactly would that work? A sound wave at a given decibel level and frequency at your eardrum, is doing the same thing mechanically, whether the origin sound was a speaker 200' away or a headphone 1' away.

      It's definitely the case that fully occlusive headphones -- meaning earbuds which fully obstruct the canal, or sealed/closed backed headphones, can create more sound pressure than you intend them to, exactly because they block the ear canal and allow no sound to escape back out. So, I think it's easier to accidentally harm oneself with earbuds and closed-backed headphones, which is why I generally don't use them, but if I have to use earbuds to jump on a call for work once in a while it doesn't scare me.
      I am with you, Jack, and, with some compassion -- all kinds of insane ideas continue to float around here, because this is a forum of mostly non-credentialed, mostly desperate people suffering from a severe and unfixable problem which has direct neurological ties to the concepts of "fear" and "safety".

      Some people are phobic about headphones, others about ultrasonic toothbrushes, and others about taking tiny amounts of aspirin. In fact, none of these things will cause any problem unless the stress they place on the ear reaches a toxic threshold. But, simple anxiety causing spikes? Hyper-fixation on tinnitus after a perceived "dangerous event" causing it to seem worse? Yes, these things are all much more possible and supported by the medical literature, than the idea that headphones are somehow magically dangerous in a way other sounds aren't.

      My experience is, if you want to use headphones and you can be smart about it, do it. If not using headphones isn't that big a deal to you and/or you're still in the early phases of this that come with a lot of phobia, then perhaps take a break from headphones until your life is normalish again.

      I switched from Sony MDRE-v6s to Grado SR80e's, because the V6s are fully closed back and the Grado's are open back, and I have a private office now (my house lol) so I don't have to worry about noise leaking to the cubicle next to me.

      When I was a kid, I just to jam headphones underneath earmuff protectors, and blast music while I mowed the lawn. I don't do that anymore, that's "dumb" not smart.
       
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    17. FGG
      No Mood

      FGG Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Multi-factorial
      Hearing aids do have a limited upper range, unfortunately but some newer ones go up to 10,000 Hz, which is an improvement.

      And people on Tinnitus Talk with hyperacusis have tried equalizer apps with varying success (it's possible technical know how plays a role). It definitely seems to help some people quite a bit. I will probably try it at some point once I can get my hyperacusis to a less sensitive point.
       
    18. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      With respect, you just don't get it. ENT doctors are physicians and treat underlying medical conditions within the auditory system that cause tinnitus. They do not treat tinnitus and most know nothing about the condition especially noise induced tinnitus. When you have corresponded and counselled people as I have, and listened to them overcome emotionally on the phone because of the distress of using headphones then you will understand.

      As I have said many times. I am only referring to people that have noise induced tinnitus and not those that have tinnitus caused by an underlying medical condition within the auditory system. I also appreciate that some people with noise induced tinnitus use headphones and experience no adverse effects but unfortunately many people do. Peruse some of the posts from members in this forum and you will see.
       
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    19. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      Don't open back headphones leak sounds to the point where other people around you can hear it? It might be an issue for the office if it does.

      Do you know if the sound leakage is bad if you're playing them at low volumes?

      Michael, do you have any more info about the idea of hearing aids having a small aperture and why that can be a safety measure?

      It'd be great if we can get some direct feedback from someone who plays music and podcasts (or anything other than just the preinstalled masking sounds) through hearing aids. I wonder if if there is a noticeable difference in the way it sounds compared to earbuds or speakers. I'll try to find someone on these boards.

      Also, how much control does an audiologist have over the hearing aids? Is it just on a software level or on a hardware level?
       
    20. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I have no additional information on what you request. My conclusions about hearing aids are based on using white noise generators since they are very similar in design.

      Earbuds and headphones use a diaphragm (speaker) that moves, generating sound waves that are pushed down the ear canal towards the eardrum. The diameter is considerably larger than the tiny hole/aperture at the end of the plastic tube that is attached to white noise generators and hearing aids. Therefore, the risk of causing severe irritation in my opinion is reduced.

      I visit various tinnitus groups and have corresponded with people by telephone and email. The most common cause of noise induced tinnitus is headphones and earbud use. Followed by listening to loud music and other forms of exposure to loud noise. Many of these people habituate after 6, 12 or 18 months, sometimes longer. Suddenly out of the blue their tinnitus has returned and often it's with a vengeance which has them perplexed. After asking a few questions, I learn they have returned to using headphones which is the most common cause for a resurgence in noise induced tinnitus, or exposure to loud noise.

      Michael
       
    21. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      They do, but I also know my old boss has used Grado SR80e's as his in-office cans for a desk in an open floorplan office for years. It's not going to be more audible to your coworkers than light whispering.
      There's definitely a difference, because hearing aids aren't designed for music fidelity, they amplify speech ranges primarily. But, as far as safety? What possible mechanism do you think there is whereby hearing aids (which are speakers inserted into the ear) would be less dangerous than... any other kind of ear-level speaker? If you look at a wiring diagram for a Tinnitus Retraining Therapy ear-level noise generator, or a hearing aid, it is... a speaker attached to speaker wires.

      Let's turn this around. If hearing aids and ear level noise generators were somehow magically safer than equivalent noises out of other kinds of headphones, why isn't anyone selling headphones based on that technology?

      Some people have unscientific and unreasonable views about headphones. I'll be the first to admit that putting speakers of any kind right next to your ear probably isn't a great idea if you're not being very diligent about it. The thing that grinds my gears is that people want to draw some kind of distinction between TRT devices, hearing aids, and other speakers, and... it just doesn't exist? Like, there's no data, we've had this argument in one direction for years, and ... no data has ever emerged. On the one hand we have thousands of peer reviewed papers indicating that sound waves are sound waves and function in specific ways; on the other we have... people who are... really scared of headphones for some reason, and seem to have an agenda about it?
      Some people in this forum think their tinnitus is affected by the phases of the moon, the color yellow, toothpaste, having used hairdye once years ago, and someone two streets over getting a dog. (I am not making any of these up, they are real things I read here).

      It's not a very compelling source of exciting information, especially when that information flies in the face of rock solid scientific data about how sound works and is processed by the human hearing apparatus.

      You have yet to materialize any peer reviewed data showing specific risks related to headphones; if this is a concern, why is there no clinical data, given the millions of clinical tinnitus cases which now exist in large data sets? It seems very strange to me that something so significant and scary would be completely absent from the relevant research.

      And to be very clear -- I do think lots of people get tinnitus from headphone use. I just don't think headphone use poses any specific audiological risks that other equivalent noise doesn't, because believing that is basically like believing in faeries. (I will also start believing in faeries if suddenly they are popping up all over and being documented in Nature).
       
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    22. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      @Michael Leigh, we can go back and forth with emote snark all night but over the years I've provided a ton of clinical research about headphones and speakers, demonstrating that there's no specific risks for headphones. Additionally, the majority of audiological professionals agree with that consensus.

      You are making the extraordinary claim that despite this well documented scientific consensus, there are special dangers to headphones. Can you please point me to some relevant, peer reviewed research with multiple citations that backs this up and provides a possible mechanism?
       
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    23. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You are looking at science and data compiled by people that know absolutely nothing about noise induced tinnitus because they have never experienced it. Those that do have the condition probably have it very mild, nothing like the people in this forum endure. This is the reason they are quick to say: using headphones is fine as long as the volume is kept low. They are medically qualified and I respect that but that doesn't equip them with knowledge or experience of tinnitus. Ask these Audiologists and ENTs what experience they have of tinnitus and do they have it? You are likely to be told they don't have it, and that all their information is based on gathering data. These are the people you look up to for help with tinnitus. I rest my case.
       
    24. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      Just a thought experiment here --

      Take a powerful set of headphone speaker, connect it to a more powerful amp, and you have something you can use as an external speaker. Or, take a very weak set of USB speakers, and you have something that's similar to a headphone speaker and driver to start with.

      Put these at 6' distance, and play gentle music such that it is 60 decibels at your ear. We're listening to soft music through speakers from 6', so everyone would likely agree that's "safe".

      Now, there is an adjustment curve we can make, so that as these same speakers are moved from being 6' from the ear to 1/4 inch, they still maintain that 60 db at the eardrum. However, when these speakers are now right on the ear, we'd all agree they've become "headphones", right? Open backed, non occlusive, but headphones all the same.

      So, at what point in that journey from 6' to 1/4" do they become dangerous, and by what mechanism?
       
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    25. Jack Straw
      Balanced

      Jack Straw Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      US
      Tinnitus Since:
      1990s
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Infection, Acoustic Trauma
      Exactly!
       
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    26. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      I'm personally afraid of headphones only because I believe that is what pushed my tinnitus over the edge. I'm sure years of standing in from of an Ampeg 8x10 helped, but I haven't done that since the pandemic started.
       
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    27. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Mr_Orange_3737

      Mr_Orange_3737 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Earwax syringing removal
      When your tinnitus increased in intensity, was it while you had headphones on listening to something?

      Also was there a particularly loud moment in what your were listening to when the tinnitus spiked?
      Michael, when you say white noise, are you referring to just one particular masking track or do you use a variety of masking tracks? One thing I noticed earlier on is that I get desensitized easily if I just had one type of masking sound so I now have a huge playlist of different ones that I cycle through.

      If it's just the one you're referring to, do you still use that particular one for sound enrichment now that your hyperacusis is better?

      Did you have to tweak this "white noise" a lot with the audiologist to get it just right?

      It seems like your saying you can't just play anything through a hearing aid. Only playing a particular track programmed to your specific tinnitus and hyperacusis through a hearing aid can assure some degree of safety. Is my assumption correct?

      I guess in a broader sense, now I'm trying to figure out how much safety/irritation has to do with the software side of things, how skilled your audiologist is, and even the content of what you're listening to.
       
    28. kingsfan
      Mellow

      kingsfan Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Southern California
      Tinnitus Since:
      9-17-20 / 10-20-20 / 3-31-21 / 5-23-21
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      turning everything up to 11
      I moved into an apartment that I quickly found was not going to be a place I would be staying after my lease expired. Since my lease was only for 10 months I decided I didn't want to do work of unpacking and setting up my home theater system and just used my AirPods to watch TV. After about 8 months or so of doing that I woke up one morning with ringing ears.
       
    29. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      The white noise I am referring to is supplied by my white noise sound generators. This is the only white noise I listen to although I have occasionally listened to white noise that has been programmed into Oasis table top sound machine.
      At the touch of a button I can select either white or pink noise on my Oticon sound generators. Pink noise sounds a tad smoother if I pay attention to it but as the volume is kept low, there isn't much noticeable difference between the two sounds.
      When I was fitted with the sound generators my Audiologist attached cables to them which were connected to a computer. This enabled the Audiologist to tweak the sounds to my requirements. I had a choice of selecting two sounds out of three. I chose white and pink noise as I didn't like the synthesize wave sound.
      As I have said, I don't use hearing aids. My sound generators are set to only play white or pink noise and the volume can be adjusted to my requirements.
       
    30. linearb
      Psychedelic

      linearb Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      beliefs are makyo and reality ignores them
      Tinnitus Since:
      1999
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      karma
      So you are saying that based on your own amateur reading of self selected anecdotes from the internet, your conclusions are more valid than those of credentialed professionals who have spent decades studying this, and yet you are not able or willing to provide any evidende to back this up?

      I know a bunch of ENTs and audiologists with severe tinnitus, and you are way off base here. If you spend enouh time interacting with the actual world of clinical work you will run into many such people, because they are self motivated to work on the problem!!

      Again, at what point in my little constant 60 dB experiment do the speakers become headphones? Where do they become dangerous? 60 dB at a given frequqnecy is 60 dB, and you have provided zero reason to think otherwise beyond "some people on a tinnitus forum say so".
       
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