Tinnitus Masking: In-Ear Maskers

Discussion in 'Treatments' started by aapeli, Mar 9, 2011.

    1. Poseidon65

      Poseidon65 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud live music show
      But questions are:

      - How loudly do the receivers play at 12,000 Hz? Do they put out significant volume or barely a sound?
      - Is the sound at 12,000 Hz clear, or is it heavily distorted?

      I'm not sure there are good answers to these questions available, which is why I suggest testing for yourself if you can.
       
    2. Stanlex
      Wtf

      Stanlex Member

      Location:
      A world where everything sounds funny
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019 - mild, 03/2021 - the real shit
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Something that cannot be identified by 21st century tech
      Tinnitus maskers are something I really consider buying and using because it doesn't look like my very ugly tinnitus is going to be a bit better/softer despite many treatments/therapies so I need to do something more radical to get a better life.

      I am scared the maskers won't mask my tinnitus fully and that even with the white noise in the background I would still hear that ugly unstable randomly pulsing high pitched hiss that my tinnitus is. My second concern is that since I have noticed some hearing distortions, I fear that the tinnitus will react to the white noise.

      However, when I breathe louder, it seems to mask it pretty well, therefore it might work. In that case, I would like to get some maskers that are preferably in the ear and discrete, as I don't need hearing amplification because I have no hearing loss. Then I would use it 24/7 and in the meanwhile I would still regularly take Ginkgo biloba-like drugs I've been prescribed because they take months to work and there is still a chance they can make the tinnitus softer or even less loud. Just with the difference that I wouldn't depend on them like today because the tinnitus wouldn't be such a big issue.

      Unfortunately, insurance companies will cover the cost of maskers only after a year of failed treatments, which would mean I can either wait and suffer for months or pay for the maskers myself out of pocket which isn't a great option considering the price but if they can help, then it doesn't matter that much.

      I really don't care if the maskers will prevent me from habituating. The idea of having maskers that could permanently change my tinnitus to white noise appears enticing.
       
    3. Poseidon65

      Poseidon65 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud live music show
      Personally I wouldn’t worry about this. An analogy is that when it’s cold out, you have to deal with the cold, but you also wear a jacket to help you deal with it. No one would say “but if you wear a jacket, how ever will you get used to dealing with the cold?” The point is that you don’t need to get *so* used to it as to be able to go outside jacketless. You can wear a jacket any time you want, so that’s the full extent you need to get used to.

      I feel the same about white noise generators. If you can habituate to tinnitus while wearing white noise generators, in my opinion you are “as habituated as you need to be.”
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    4. Stanlex
      Wtf

      Stanlex Member

      Location:
      A world where everything sounds funny
      Tinnitus Since:
      2019 - mild, 03/2021 - the real shit
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Something that cannot be identified by 21st century tech
      Little update from my experience.

      I still have not got tinnitus maskers, but I have visited local Phonak office to get some info about them. I must say, I am terrified. The employee was mean as hell, was literally laughing at me. She said there is no such thing as tinnitus maskers, only hearing aids with tinnitus masking as a secondary function. She wants €800 EUR for both hearing aids from me and doesn't even allow me to try it if I don't pay the full price first, and thanks to a mistake a stupid ENT that robbed and scammed me did, the insurance company might not even cover them for me, meaning I would have pay it entirely by myself.

      I am still shocked how bad things are. They want me to put my entire year's scholarship for pathetic devices whose only function is to play a white noise to my ears and they are also mean as hell, like the good old "Our customer is our master" wasn't a thing at all. Their device is not even going to cure my tinnitus, only make me look like an idiot and force me to hear white noise for life. This is even worse than having vision loss and wearing glasses or hearing loss and wearing hearing aids. Because this is not like you wear it and hear silence.

      I really expected to go to some nice looking office with kind empathic employees that understand my misfortune and try to find a solution that is worth the money. Instead, I came into trashy looking dirty office with fat angry woman that laughed and yelled at me, wanting hundreds of euros for nothing. Also, these Phonak hearing aids look like 20 years old, with stupid functions like Bluetooth and so on, that I do not need, and are huge, absolutely non-discreet.

      I don't really know what to do now. I think wearing a $30 dollar Bluetooth earbuds would do the same. Do you know any other company that does these things? I found some very discreet at £250 GBP in-ear maskers from PureTone. However, these weirdos at Phonak wanted me to stay there for 1 hour so they could set the masker up for my tone. I don't know why it would take so long to set a volume of a white noise to have it masked. Also, my tinnitus is not a constant tone, it goes up and down. What if I ordered the PureTone ones from the UK and set them myself?

      I don't know, maybe the fate will play against me and I will be forced to buy maskers from Phonak. But at the mment I am more angry than desperate, so I also think about not buying anything and try to learn to live with my tinnitus instead.

      Sorry for the negativity in this post, I've been so angry. It literally feels some people are like "you have had misfortune that was not caused by you" - Let's make it even worse for you by taking all your money and making you feel a bit more miserable.
       
      • Hug Hug x 2
    5. Ehren M
      Nerdy

      Ehren M Member

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/24/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic trauma
      Sorry for my ignorance, but I see a lot of details about in-ear masking devices and why to use them, but not much discussion from folks who can say definitively that they have benefitted from using these things, much less a particular model.

      Does anyone have success stories they could share with respect to habituation or full remission of their hyperacusis or tinnitus related to using in-ear noise generators?
       
      • Good Question Good Question x 1
    6. AfroSnowman
      Balanced

      AfroSnowman Member Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Nonnatural energy source
      Just putting this out there in case anyone still comes to this thread.

      The new background sounds as part of iPhone iOS 15 are great. For me they seem much better than those loaded into my hearing aids at the audiologist office.
       
    7. Ben Winders
      Pensive

      Ben Winders Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic
      Keep in mind the (fairly recent) option of bone conducting headphones.

      I ordered a pair just now and they offer incredible sound and they sit on top of your ears, so you can still hear people when they talk to you + your own voice / eating sounds do not sound too loud either; an effect you DO get when you put in regular in-ear headphones.
       
    8. peejay501
      Frustrated

      peejay501 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Work related
      I just got these also. I like the way they work, as they don't have to be in your ear, yet, provide the distraction of having sounds/white noise. I also bought a set of IQbuds, wireless ear buds. They work great. The can be used for amplification and/or play background noises. The were a little pricy, like $400 USD, but they are way cheaper than most hearing aids and I think, work better. I have had two sets of Phonak hearing aids, and while they worked OK, If I had to have paid for them out of pocket as opposed to my insurance, I don't believe it would have been worth it...
       
      • Like Like x 1
    9. peejay501
      Frustrated

      peejay501 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Work related
      I know you posted this a few months ago, but if your still looking for a solution, I recommend Nuheara IQbuds. I have had 2 sets of Phonak, which were expensive. If my insurance had not paid for them, for me, would NOT have been worth the money. I use my IQbuds pretty much in place of my hearing aids. The IQbuds work via Bluetooth on your phone from an app and you can adjust the sound/tones to what works for you. Might be a solution for you to consider.
       
      • Like Like x 1
      • Informative Informative x 1
    10. MikeV

      MikeV Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Just get some cheap wireless earbuds and download the free tinnitus apps available. White noise works best for me, but single tones in the 8000 to 9000 Hz range also work. No need to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    11. Clerkp

      Clerkp Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2000
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud Music
      Hi, where can I find the single tones you are referring to?
       
    12. SectorClear

      SectorClear Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/20/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      TMJ/ETD/stress
      Can't say enough good things about my Widex hearing aids.

      I'm on day 4 now and I can say strongly that they work and I haven't been bothered by tinnitus nearly as much. I have no hearing loss but the audiologist boosted background noise by about 10%, plus there's a white noise feature that all combined makes my tinnitus still there, but not bothersome. I'm sure if I turned the volume up I'd completely not hear my tinnitus but she said not to as it can make the tinnitus compete and get louder. I don't wear them at night and still take Xanax plus having a fan and nature sound app on my phone, but I've taken Xanax to sleep for years so no biggie.

      Best decision I've ever made, I wish I would have gotten these 7 months ago. I'm even considering getting my 2nd COVID-19 shot now that I can handle the tinnitus; my fear before was that it would make it worse.
       
      • Like Like x 3
    13. jhnn

      jhnn Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Howdy--I was considering bone conducting headphones. Perhaps you can fill me in: in more intimate environments, say social situations where silence is the norm (group meditation, for example) are these headphones going to be more prone to leaking audio?

      I want to be able to cover those cases where my tinnitus is acting up in situations where it is silent in a group setting.
       
    14. Ben Winders
      Pensive

      Ben Winders Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      acoustic
      I don't have them here with me but if I remember correctly, they don't leak more than regular in-ear headphones.

      Keep in mind to not put the bone conducting ones too loud either.
       
    15. Roy E

      Roy E Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Started 2014, Spiked 11/21 after booster
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Too many possible causes, see "about" section
      I avoid putting anything in my ears. They cause fluid buildup, pain and infections.

      So at night I wear a Bluetooth sidesleeper headphone headset and listen to my "binaural beats neuromodulated" YouTube videos to fall asleep (I download them and converted them to mp3s). The speakers are thin and after the first night you won't feel them, very comfortable.

      During the day I use Aftershokz Aeropex bone conduction Bluetooth headset. It's the most expensive but it's the smallest, most comfortable and has the least amount of sound leakage.

      These will cost you thousands less than in-ear maskers that generally go for $4k + and are very hard to find.
       
    16. DebInAustralia
      No Mood

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      Can I ask why the hearing aids weren't an option for you?
       
    17. Sointu
      No Mood

      Sointu Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma (also maybe med withdrawal)
      My experience of in-ear maskers was not good. I have tinnitus and hyperacusis (caused by noise trauma) and some sounds trigger pain. I have recovered a lot but I experience hyperacusis setbacks sometimes. When my hyperacusis was at its worst, I did not even want to leave home and could not watch TV because my ears were that sensitive a few months ago. I had constant pain and ear fullness. I have made progress and have felt benefit from quiet sound enrichment (only certain sounds work for me) from speakers at home and knowing my limits what is too much for my hyperacusis and slowly trying to increase sound levels. I can't listen to quiet sound therapy from headphones or earbuds because my symptoms spike.

      However, my tinnitus bothers me a lot and I still can't go out without earplugs (hyperacusis). So I was recommended in-ear maskers for hyperacusis/tinnitus.

      I tried Audex hearing aids/maskers for short periods of time. Certain external frequencies (speech frequencies) were amplified even though I don't have hearing loss. Obviously the maskers prevent hearing normally because they are like little earplugs that are put inside of ears and they block sounds a bit. During the tuning, I felt autophony; I heard my own voice and crackling. My ears did not like those. I have been thinking is amplification really such a good idea for a person like me who has this type of hyperacusis and get setbacks easily. After the hearing test and tuning of the Audex hearing aids/maskers, I experienced ear fatigue and a little bit of burning inside of my "better ear".

      I then used Phonak hearing devices (maskers) and listened to white noise. The idea was to slowly increase white noise during the next months. My reactive tinnitus reacted to the white noise and got even louder and climbed on top of the white noise. I think the white noise was not right for my ears even though it was gentle. I don't like listening to white noise at all as a sound therapy.

      Then I started to experience worse hyperacusis, burning sensation in my usually normal ear and worse tinnitus. That moment I decided to stop using the maskers. I also got insomnia when my ear became so sensitive I couldn't mask my tinnitus because of hyperacusis. Now I am experiencing a setback and I still experience hyperacusis and tinnitus spike days later.

      I don't want those maskers near my ear ever again. On the other hand, maybe some other type of masking sound, different frequencies and no amplification could work better. I can listen to certain type of pink noise without issues. Some type of notched pink noise does not bother my reactive tinnitus. But at the moment I don't feel like trying them again anytime soon.
       
    18. bobvann
      Vegged out

      bobvann Member

      Location:
      Inside the vortex
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud shit
      I had the same experience with Phonak P70s a few weeks back. I returned them within 24 hours.
       
      • Helpful Helpful x 1
    19. Sointu
      No Mood

      Sointu Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma (also maybe med withdrawal)
      I am sorry that you experienced harm too. I used Phonak Audeo B70 model. I wrote accidentally Audex first but I meant Phonak Audeo B70 model.

      I regret so much trying them because I was feeling much better before this.

      Did you experience a spike after trying them and did the spike go down soon? Did you have any issues during the tuning of the hearing aids when they were connected to a computer? I had to ask the hearing aid dispenser do something because the hearing aid was making this weird uncomfortable crackling sound when it was connected to the computer. I also experienced occlusion effect where I heard my own voice oddly during the tuning. I have no idea what was the thing that irritated my ear the most and caused this spike though.
       
    20. bobvann
      Vegged out

      bobvann Member

      Location:
      Inside the vortex
      Tinnitus Since:
      April 2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud shit
      You can read about it in the "Your Sound Therapy Experiences" thread:
      Thinking about it, I have had issues every time I tried sound therapy. Back in 2018 Widex drove me to tears in less than 24 hours. 2 years ago I trialed Oticons for approx 3 weeks to a month. Upon wearing them on the 1st day, I went to a loud restaurant and wound up throwing up from the intrusion they caused but they then became more tolerable but did not really help in the end. And lastly the recent Phonak P70s. My wife said "why do you keep trying." Good point...
       
    21. DebInAustralia
      No Mood

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Hall of Fame Advocate

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      I am glad that you have found something that helps you.

      How are you getting on now? I would love to hear a positive update.
       
    22. Sointu
      No Mood

      Sointu Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma (also maybe med withdrawal)
      I am sorry to hear you haven't got help from sound therapy. I did not have high hopes before trying in-ear maskers but this experience was even worse than I would have thought. In short time my hyperacusis went from tolerable to intolerable.
       
    23. Anomalous

      Anomalous Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Oslo, Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise, stress
      I finally got in-ear maskers yesterday and my first impression of them was really good.

      Yesterday was the best day for me in a really long time - my mood, concentration and ability to relax was so much better. But I was doing good before I started wearing them as well so that must be taken into account.

      Today has been okay for the most part, but it has gotten really bad the last couple of hours. I'm not doing so good currently, and I'm worried that the maskers caused the spike. So I've taken them off after wearing them almost all day today and yesterday.

      Something I'm struggling to understand is the difference between in-ear maskers and headsets/earbuds. I've been advised to stop using a headset, and I'm not hard to ask since my tinnitus was likely noise induced in the first place. I will never wear a headset ever again unless it's for a hearing test.

      I only wanted to try the in-ear maskers because they were recommended by Treble Health, audiologists I've talked to in person and someone I know who said in-ear maskers helped him a lot. But still, they have a wire that goes inside your ear and plays noise - why is that safe but headsets/earbuds are not?
       
      • Hug Hug x 1
    24. Poseidon65

      Poseidon65 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud live music show
      Personally, I think there is no difference between in-ear maskers and earbuds. Noise is noise, and if both devices are playing at the same loudness (i.e. decibels), then both are equally safe.

      FWIW, if you're finding that the maskers are causing a spike, try a lower volume. We also know that spikes can come out of nowhere, meaning it could have had nothing to do with the maskers in the first place. Just something to consider.
       
    25. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      You should listen to the advice of your audiologists and use the in-ear white noise generators, which is their proper name, as they are not meant to mask the tinnitus.

      My advice is not to use headphones, earbuds, headsets, AirPods or bone conduction headphones, to listen to any type of audio including white noise, as you risk making your tinnitus worse.

      BTE (Behind The Ear) and in-ear white noise generators (as well as hearing aids) are completely different from headphones and the other devices I have mentioned. Some people believe they are the same as headphones or earbuds as they emit a similar kind of noise into the ear which is true up to a point. However, it is the way the sound is delivered into the ear which is the most important thing, so that irritation to the auditory system is kept to a minimum.

      White noise generators and hearing aids don’t usually irritate the auditory system due to the volume being kept low and how its frequency range remains constant. 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, earbuds, headsets use a large speaker/diaphragm in comparison to emit sound into the ear. Compared to white noise generators and hearing aids, the sound is often crude, abrasive and unregulated, which can cause irritation to the ear and auditory system causing spikes in the tinnitus and hyperacusis.

      In-ear sound generators are specifically built for playing white noise into the ear to treat tinnitus and hyperacusis. The sound is smooth and regulated and are the correct devices to use. When using white noise generators, my advice is to be under the care of an audiologist that specialises in tinnitus and hyperacusis management to get best from this treatment. They should be introduced slowly to avoid spiking the tinnitus and hyperacusis if it is present.

      Set the volume of the white noise generators below the level of the tinnitus and wear them for just 1 or 2 hours, then remove them for the same duration. After the elapsed time put them on again setting the volume below the tinnitus and wear them for another 1 or 2 hours. If you notice any irritation, reduce the wearing time again.

      Continue doing this on day one, two and throughout the week. Continue this process for week two and so on, then gradually increase the wearing time. The goal is to achieve a total wearing time of 6 to 10 hours per day and many people achieve this. At night white noise generators shouldn't be worn while asleep. Instead use a sound machine by the bedside setting the volume slightly below the tinnitus.

      Over time the white noise generators will help to desensitize the auditory system so it becomes less sensitive to sound and the hyperacusis will reduce. At the same time the tinnitus is treated, as the brain will habituate to the white noise generators and slowly push the tinnitus into the background so it becomes less noticeable. This treatment can take up to 18 months.

      Regular counselling with the audiologist helps to demystify and remove the negative thinking that is often associated with tinnitus and hyperacusis. Contrary to some beliefs, hyperacusis can be completely cured or reduced considerably using white noise generators. The same can be achieved naturally or using self-help techniques described in my post: Hyperacusis, As I See It, on my started threads.

      Michael
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    26. Anomalous

      Anomalous Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Oslo, Norway
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2022
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud noise, stress
      Thank you for your replies. I've tried the generators twice today and both times I had to take them off after 15 minutes or so. They have spiked my tinnitus pretty severely and before wearing them I was doing okay enough. I don't consider myself to have very reactive tinnitus at all.

      I used the lowest available volume. They set a "zero point" for the volume at the audiologist's office and I'm able to reduce the volume by 5 dB only, but if I had reduced the volume further, it would've been barely audible.

      I am really bummed out because I was doing very well the day I got them, and now within minutes of wearing the generators they've made me feel a lot worse. This is now the third time they have spiked my tinnitus.
       
    27. Poseidon65

      Poseidon65 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A loud live music show
      I no longer wear noise generators, but when I did wear the generators, here is something I did. Rather than using the built-in masking function, what I did was to stream masking noise from my phone via Bluetooth, using the myNoise app. This allowed me to experiment not only with the masking volume, but also the character of the masking noise itself (i.e. how much volume at each frequency). I recall this helped me to find a masking noise that I reacted well to, i.e. which was not causing spikes.

      FWIW, even though I no longer use in-ear maskers, I still use the same myNoise app sound as a bedside white noise machine when sleeping (with volume playing through my phone speakers).
       
    28. Fightthearmy

      Fightthearmy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      work-related
      I concur, I've tried some tinnitus masking sounds from the internet, and once I turn them off, my tinnitus is much louder. Given that experience, masking devices seems like a bad idea, and they're expensive, as well.
       
    29. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      My sound generators are made by Oticon. They are connected to my phone via an app. The volume starts at the lowest and can be increased: -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 (0) +1 +2 +3 +4 +5. I mostly use -5 and occasionally -4.

      You will have to experiment with the sound generators and see what works best for you. Set the volume at the lowest so the sound is still audible and wear them for 5 or 10 minutes, then take them off to give your ears a rest for 5 to 15 minutes, then put them on again. I am just giving you examples. If you can only wear them for 2 minutes at a time, then try it. It is something you will have to persist with and be patient. This doesn't mean you must endure pain and discomfort, just take things very slowly.

      Last year, @Eleanor89 a member of Tinnitus Talk, had very severe hyperacusis. She was advised to wear sound generators by her audiologist but had a lot of difficulty wearing them as the hyperacusis would spike. She followed my suggestions mentioned above and now her hyperacusis has improved a lot. It takes time but be patient and you will improve.

      Michael
       
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