Tinnitus Masking: Bone Conduction Headphones (e.g., Aftershokz) — Share Your Experience

Discussion in 'Treatments' started by Steve, Mar 27, 2014.

    1. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Just like regular headphones. What are you wondering about?
       
    2. dayma
      Frustrated

      dayma Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/6/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      UNKNOWN
      I think the belief was bone conductive was easier on the ear in general. Not sure how to quantify that...
       
    3. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Why would it be? It's perhaps easier on the outer & middle ear (since they are bypassed), but I think most people in here are more concerned about the cochlea.
       
    4. dayma
      Frustrated

      dayma Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/6/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      UNKNOWN
      I agree. I use them for notch therapy though. Etc
       
    5. Luman
      Spaced

      Luman Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Brooklyn
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Intermittent Tinnitus probably noise induced
      I wish they'd bring back a very early version of this concept, the Bone Fone (released 1979), but in a modernized version. Bone Fone, which contained a radio receiver, draped over the shoulders, not near the ears.
       
    6. PaulaO

      PaulaO Member

      Location:
      western NC
      Tinnitus Since:
      1983
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      I am looking into them as I would rather not cover my ears or put a plug in them. I like the listen to music and with the tinnitus, I am having difficulty hearing the music through speakers.
       
    7. PaulaO

      PaulaO Member

      Location:
      western NC
      Tinnitus Since:
      1983
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      Thank you for your answer. I appreciate it. No, my tinnitus is not caused by loud noise although it can cause spikes in intensity. My partner would rather I not play music or sound (pink noise makes the ringing and roar go away) aloud at night which is why I use a single ear bud. I would have to play it rather loud to hear it without the ear bud.
       
    8. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      I think you will have the same difficulty with bone conduction headphones. Your T stimulus gets generated past the cochlea in the hearing pipeline, so I don't really think it matters whether the hair cells are activated via air conduction (ear drum -> ossicles -> cochlea) or bone conduction.
       
    9. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You are welcome. My advice on playing music directly into the ear and the use of bone conduction headphones is still the same for people with "noise induced tinnitus". Since your tinnitus wasn't caused by this but you still have "spikes" I advise to proceed with caution. Playing music through an earbud directly into the ear in my opinion is risky. You could try using a pillow speaker and there are various types available that will give you privacy and won't disturb your partner.

      It might be a good idea to have some hearing tests done at ENT just to make sure your auditory system is working correctly and you have no hearing impairment. Please be careful because tinnitus can be very unforgiving if it regularly spikes due to sound irritation. Under such circumstances, the tinnitus can spike and remain permanent.

      I wish you well.
      Michael
       
    10. annV
      Fine

      annV Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown - possibly hereditary
      Using headphones is not risky if you keep the volume low enough.
       
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    11. Tinker Bell

      Tinker Bell Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      SSHL from virus
      I am going to muddle this, but an audiologist mentioned to me how sound travels into the cochlea. That the location of 4k (the base of the first curve) is a particular spot where it is believed that sound essentially hits the hardest before traveling through the rest of the cochlea.

      If that is true, would bone conduction headphones avoid this?
       
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    12. PaulaO

      PaulaO Member

      Location:
      western NC
      Tinnitus Since:
      1983
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      unknown
      I've looked into the pillow speakers this morning after talking with my partner. I think we can come up with a compromise. And since pillow speakers are much much much cheaper than conductive headset, I'll start with them.

      I once spent too much money on something called "sleep phones" that was a headband with tiny speakers. Sadly, it was advertised better than it was made.
       
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    13. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      This is why audiologists say signs of noise trauma will usually show up at 4khz, as a cookie bite, in many people.
       
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    14. Tinker Bell

      Tinker Bell Member Hall of Fame

      Location:
      U.S.
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      SSHL from virus
      Exactly, that is what my audiologist said too. That’s why I wonder if bond conduction headphones would put less strain on 4k.
       
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    15. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2015
      My mother-in-law happens to be a senior audiologist. She see’s a lot of it.
       
    16. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      This is definitely not true @annV With respect I don't think you realize the seriousness and the risk someone with "noise induced tinnitus" takes, using headphones even at low volume, which can make tinnitus worse. I agree, not everyone with NIT will be adversely affected by headphones use at low volume. However, more often than not people with NIT are. Earlier today, a member of this forum telephoned me from overseas. This person suffered "Acoustic trauma" (Noise induced tinnitus".6 years ago. This person fully habituated and the tinnitus reduced to a very low level. This person completely forgot about the tinnitus and carried on with life doing everything he/she wanted to.

      Two weeks ago this person began using headphones and kept the volume low. The tinnitus has returned with a vengeance and has left this member in a lot of distress. This is a familiar story told by members with NIT that returned to using headphones and regretted it. People that have tinnitus which wasn't caused by "loud noise" are not so easily affected by headphone use.

      I am not making this story up about the person that telephoned me this evening. Anyone wanting proof, please PM me and I will ask the "Member" if he/she would like to corresponded with them to verify I am speaking the truth.

      Michael
       
      Last edited: May 14, 2018
    17. drivera2592
      Nerdy

      drivera2592 Member

      Location:
      Garden Grove CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      Hi everyone.

      I wanted to ask if anyone had any experience with bone conduction headphones. My tinnitus was caused by a loud concert I attended so my fear is that using headphones will cause greater damage.

      I’ve had tinnitus for about 7 months.

      Thanks

      Daniel
       
    18. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I strongly advise you not to use "any type of headphones including bone conduction" as there is the risk of making your tinnitus a lot worse. Bone conduction headphones will send audio through the skull and mastoid bone directly to the inner ear and irritate the cochlea. Your cochlea has already been affected by loud noise which resulted in tinnitus. You probably have hyperacusis too. Both conditions have a strong possibility of becoming a lot worse, if you use headphones of any type even at low volume.

      Michael
       
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    19. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      Bone conduction headphones are no different than regular headphones (or speakers, etc) when it comes down to the stimuli affecting the hair cells in the cochlea. It just takes a different path to generate the vibration of the stereocilia.

      The stereocilia don't care what the actual source of sound is. Whatever you use for source of sound, be mindful of the volume.
       
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    20. stophiss

      stophiss Member

      Location:
      Florida
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      too full a life
      Greg a question please. Both Michael and you are well studied when it comes to tinnitus.

      Do you believe that headphones of any ilk...maybe what a hearing aid is in terms of augmented frequency response and may in fact be therapeutic to tinnitus as we have talked...headphones are not injurious to tinnitus provided volume aka listening levels are within normal ranges?


      I believe Michael's position on headphone use is universally that headphones should never be used with tinnitus sufferers. Michael please correct me if you feel differently.

      Therein lies the philosophical argument of course based upon the way you couched it Greg...that of 'sound source'...that a headphone is a generic sound source...in other words, as long as percussive sound waves created by a headphone are no more intrusive that normal ambient sound waves, then the ear should not be able to distinguish.
      Is that your point?

      Thanks
       
    21. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

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

      I hope that you are keeping well.

      My advice not to use any type of headphones even at low volume, only pertains to people that have “noise induced tinnitus”. As you know I have written about this subject many times and it’s based on personal experience, since my tinnitus was caused by headphones. I have also corresponded with many people at: Tinnitus forums, email and telephone over the years that have noise induced tinnitus, that resumed using headphones after they had habituated and the majority, have informed me their tinnitus got worse even when the headphone volume was set to low.

      Tinnitus is a complex condition and many things can cause it. I am familiar with “noise induced” tinnitus but not other types of tinnitus caused by an underlying medical problem within the auditory system or from medication etc. It is for this reason I do not comment or give advice on these types of tinnitus because I believe they are different from “noise induced” tinnitus where the cochlea, in the inner ear has been affected by “noise trauma”. As a result, many people with noise induced tinnitus (noise trauma) also experience hyperacusis. This is not usually the case with other types of tinnitus which wasn’t caused by noise trauma to the auditory system. Therefore, in most cases these people do not have the oversensitivity to sound, at least not to the same degree or severity that is often experienced by people that have noise induced tinnitus.

      I have a lot of respect for ENT doctors, Hearing Therapists, Audiologists that work with tinnitus patients and believe the majority, want to help their patients and see their quality of life improve. This can be obtained in a variety of ways. With medication, counselling, sound therapy and treatments such as CBT, TRT, Mindfulness etc. Whilst these medical professionals are good at what they do, having knowledge about the anatomy of the ear. They are able to treat it medically and in some cases surgically. When it comes to tinnitus, I believe they are given a reverence by some that they do not deserve, for the simple reason, the majority of these medical professionals know very little about tinnitus having never experienced it and therefore have no understanding of it. They only know what their patients tell them about tinnitus. My own Audiovestibular consultant, whom I have immense respect for told this to me some years ago.

      I am sure the debate about headphone use and tinnitus will continue to rumble on for many years. Whilst some people with noise induced tinnitus are not affected by headphones many are. I believe that it’s just not worth taking the risk, considering the misery that these dangerous devices can cause. Just last month, a member of this forum contacted me to say. They had habituated for some time and decided to use headphones and kept the volume low. Within three days the tinnitus increased to severe levels and now this person is in distress and unable to return to work, as the tinnitus will not reduce to its previous manageable level. I have been told many stories like this from people with noise induced tinnitus, that have habituated and returned to using headphones and regretted it.

      Take care and I wish you well.

      Michael
       
      Last edited: Jul 13, 2018
    22. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      When the hair cells vibrate to transcode vibratory stimuli into electrical impulses, I don't think they care about "what" makes them vibrate. When they vibrate, they generate an electrical signal.

      I don't think it's a philosophical argument.
       
    23. drivera2592
      Nerdy

      drivera2592 Member

      Location:
      Garden Grove CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      Why is it ok to receive TRT treatment with noise generators in the ear? – It seems to me that it’s the same concept as having earphones in the ear. Why is it not ok to use a headphone/ or earphone to help mask the tinnitus? Doesn’t the noise generator in the ear do the same thing as an earphone or headpiece ?

      @GregCA @Michael Leigh @stophiss
       
    24. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hello @drivera2592

      I have had TRT twice. The full treatment and not a scaled down version of it or elements of it. Some people talk about TRT and have never had the treatment and therefore, I advise you not to listen to them. Please read the post below regarding headphones, tinnitus and white noise generators.

      White noise generators are nothing like earphones, headphones, earbuds etc. They will not harm the ears and auditory system providing they are used correctly. The same applies to hearing aids. I have been using WNGs for 20 years and wearing them now as I type. I have never had any problems with them. Headphones in my opinion, are risky and dangerous, for anyone to use that has "noise induced" tinnitus even at low volume.

      Michael

      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.
      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 cochlea in the inner ear becomes affected 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 or reduce its symptoms. 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 Cochlea further, which can make the tinnitus louder and more intrusive.

      In my opinion, it can be misleading when some health care 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 and therefore don’t know much about. I have spoken to people and corresponded with them by email and at Internet forums, complaining their tinnitus has become worse 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.

      White noise generators.
      Some may question the use white noise generators and in-ear types that emit white noise directly into the ear. White noise generators 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.

      I believe someone that has noise induced tinnitus and uses earbuds to listen to music, is putting themselves at even greater risk of making the tinnitus worse. Earbuds are inserted into the ear canal which is around 1 inch in length, therefore they are very close to the eardrum.

      Michael

      PS: Behind the ear (BTE) white noise generators, have a "thin tube" that wraps around the ear and is inserted in the ear canal. At the end of this tube there is an opening - a very "small" hole which the white noise emits and is sent towards the eardrum and inner ear. Similarly, in-ear white noise generators also have a small opening which the white noise is emitted. Headphones and earbuds are different. They use a large speaker or diaphragm in comparison to deliver sound. Playing white noise through them cannot easily be fine tuned as the WNG and can cause irritation to the ear and auditory system. Therefore, it' possible to make the tinnitus worse.
       
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    25. drivera2592
      Nerdy

      drivera2592 Member

      Location:
      Garden Grove CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      Hi Michael,

      So your argument is that in white noise generators the frequency remains constant?
       
    26. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      It is not just the frequency of the sound that is important. It is also the bandwidth or audio range. If you get the chance to try white noise generators then you will understand. They are completely different from headphones. It is virtually impossible to create the same effect playing white noise through headphones as dedicated white noise generators, which are specifically made for the purpose, of delivering gentle and smooth white noise to the ears and auditory system without causing irritation. White noise through headphones sound crude and abrasive.

      Michael
       
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    27. glynis
      Feminine

      glynis Member Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      2004
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Meniere's Disease
      @drivera2592 ,
      White noise generators have really fine tuning and can be a loud hiss to a very faint hiss and this could not be done with headphones or earphones.
      I still have mine from many years ago.

      If you are not in a position to get White noise generators or hearing aids and are struggling like mental torture then using headphones or earphones on the lowest setting plying white noise or natural sounds can be used just for short periods on the lowest setting if your mentally struggling and that was from Professor David Baguly .
      love glynis
       
    28. drivera2592
      Nerdy

      drivera2592 Member

      Location:
      Garden Grove CA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/10/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Concert
      @Michael Leigh @glynis

      Thanks for your input. Thankfully I have the funds to purchase the white noise generators but I wanted a good reason to buy them. I think i am convinced that I need to purchase them.
       
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    29. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      @drivera2592

      I advise you NOT to buy white noise generators and will explain the reasons in a post later....
       
    30. GregCA
      Jaded

      GregCA Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Otosclerosis
      I think it does indeed, but many white noise generators are "behind the ear" with "receiver in canal" (BTE/RIC) which leaves your ear "open" to external sounds (to mix in with the noise generator). This would would be different with closed/isolating headphones/ear buds.
       
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