To Mask or Not to Mask... That Is the Question!

Discussion in 'Support' started by Glenn, Feb 19, 2014.

    1. Glenn
      Balanced

      Glenn Member

      Location:
      North Syracuse, New York
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/06/2014
      I thought I might get some feedback on this from all your wonderful people out there!

      I work in IT and in a very quiet environment for 8 hours a day. When my tinnitus was really bad, I would turn on this noise generator online and it would make the day more bearable. Over the last couple days I've tried to ween off of the noise generator in the hopes to habituate more to the tinnitus.

      However, I'm having a REALLY BAD tinnitus day today and I'm really torn. I want to put the generator on, and yet I don't :(

      Any thoughts?
       
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    2. Hattukoira
      Tired

      Hattukoira Member

      Location:
      Finland
      Tinnitus Since:
      07/2010
      I mask my tinnitus only when I'm at computer and sometimes when I'm reading a book, newspaper etc.

      I don't like to mask my tinnitus when I'm sleeping because I feel like my ears need some rest too.
       
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    3. star-affinity
      Wishful

      star-affinity Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1993, increase in 2020, then new in 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe during a soundcheck – sudden sound from speaker
      This!

      I fatigued my left ear and triggered high pitched hearing damage and a high pitch tinnitus after masking for several months. :(

      Didn't even have that high volume music, but I guess my ear was fatigued. I will regret it for the rest of my life. Let the ear a few nights in a row at least or set a timer so the sound or music stops after you've fallen asleep.
       
      • Like Like x 1
    4. jasonbourne

      jasonbourne Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise
      Masking for me means the tinnitus will never drop in volume. If I can't tolerate my tinnitus then I turn on masking, which masks half the sounds. It's not good long term though for me. I've noticed that when I have spikes, it has never returned to baseline when I mask. It only will if I allow my brain to listen to the sound and calm down.

      TL;DR: If you can mentally handle it, don't mask.
       
      • Agree Agree x 2
    5. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      I am in the no masking camp. When I tried it at night, I fell asleep more easily, but woke up to ear fullness, and louder tinnitus.

      I went in the other direction, slept with earplugs and the tinnitus is less in the morning. Using earplugs at night has allowed me to get my tinnitus under good control.
       
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      • Agree Agree x 1
    6. Robster
      Irritated

      Robster Member

      Location:
      South Gloucestershire, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Acoustic trauma - MRI
      I also use earplugs at night, unless I'm having a really bad tinnitus day and the ear plugs make my tinnitus sound ridiculously loud. It used to help keep my tinnitus under control, but not so much these days.

      I also don't mask as, like yourself, I find that when I wake up the tinnitus is crazy loud if I've had masking music/noise on overnight.
       
    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Masking tinnitus can be fraught with problems and if one isn't careful can make it more intrusive, especially if hyperacusis is present because it can cause irritation to the auditory system. Veterans and those seasoned to tinnitus know, attempting to mask tinnitus so that it can't be heard is not achievable long term and will usually make the habituation process more difficult or halt it completely. As soon as the masking sound is stopped or removed temporarily, the brain will immediately focus on the tinnitus and often it will appear to be louder and more intrusive. This will often have the undesired effect of increasing stress and anxiety. Therefore, unless the brain can hear the tinnitus to some extent it will never learn to habituate to it.

      A much better way and preferred method is to use low level sound enrichment and this is one of the reasons Audiologists and Hearing Therapists that specialise in tinnitus management no longer use the word masking. Ideally, sound enrichment should be set slightly below the tinnitus so that it's not competing with it. One can use nature sounds or low level music. However, it is not advisable to use music at night as it draws attention to itself. If white noise generators are to be used, it's advisable to set the sound slightly below the tinnitus. Some people choose the mixing point that enables the white noise to be mixed or blended with the tinnitus so they are both heard. This method often causes irritation, particularly if a person has hyperacusis or is oversensitive to sound.

      Michael
       
    8. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Same for me. I find the earplugs make things much quieter for me at night. Since I have figured this out, it has been a godsend for managing my tinnitus.
       
    9. Steph1710
      Old hag

      Steph1710 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Location:
      England
      Tinnitus Since:
      08/04/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Antibiotics - I think
      I only ever masked at the beginning. If I mask now, I find it makes my tinnitus way more annoying. I actually prefer just to sit there in “silence”.
       
      • Agree Agree x 4
    10. RAA

      RAA Member

      Location:
      Denmark
      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I am also in the no masking camp as well now (since 3 weeks ago). I did mask repetitively which was like a safety blanket at onset last year, but I have a feeling it might have made my tinnitus worse, even when using sound enrichment at night. I kept it low but no matter if timed to finish a few hours later or playing through the night I would be woken to loud tinnitus.

      After nearly 3 weeks now of sleeping in silence (with just my tinnitus), I am sleeping straight through for around 7 hours and having great almost quiet days. Was averaging 5 or 6/10 tinnitus level many days last year/earlier this year, now it's a lot more 0.5 to 2/10 most days for the last 3 weeks. I really think my ears were fatigued from night-time masking. Just praying this continues.
       
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    11. Zaimon

      Zaimon Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Sudden Hearing Loss
      Whenever I mask my tinnitus, it goes away for like 1-2 hours but mfker always comes back stronger then.
       
    12. Digital Doc

      Digital Doc Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      noise induced
      Glad to hear your tinnitus is getting better, and congrats on your progress. I found that using earplugs at night made the tinnitus even better in the morning. I have continued this, and my tinnitus is under a 1/10 most days at this point.
       
    13. star-affinity
      Wishful

      star-affinity Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1993, increase in 2020, then new in 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe during a soundcheck – sudden sound from speaker
      I also definitely think no masking is the best approach – especially now after damaging my left ear. :(

      If it's done I think it should be a temporary thing that one does if the tinnitus really is so intrusive that it makes it difficulty to sleep even after a couple of hours of trying. Yet, the aim should be to try and cope without. Or have some really low sound or music that's on a speaker not too close to the ears that doesn't really mask anything, but is more of a distant distraction.

      For me I think it became sort of and addiction and routine at night – I was expecting the music to be there and I just kept going having it on every night. Even if my tinnitus was intrusive at times, did I really need to mask it to be able to fall a sleep within a reasonable time? I don't think so.

      Sometimes now I try to turn on some calm nature sounds when going to sleep, but I end up just turning it of, since it feels the ears in my current state (especially left ear) just prefers it to be quiet.

      Like I've said before I'm really devastated about my situation and every time I wake up (earlier than I should because of the trauma I feel I'm in) I can't believe this is my new hearing situation going forward. :(

      Good luck to all, be careful and "listen" to your ears. :)
       
    14. star-affinity
      Wishful

      star-affinity Member Podcast Patron Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1993, increase in 2020, then new in 2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Maybe during a soundcheck – sudden sound from speaker
      Interestingly, I don't think I ever recall that my tinnitus was louder in the morning when masking with music all night. Can it be because my tinnitus (two sounds) wasn't noise-induced?

      The new third one I've managed to get in my left ear definitely is, though. :(

      Only good thing is that the hum I used to have (seemed related to the left ear, but felt more "in the head") feels more or less gone now.
       
    15. Mr Joel

      Mr Joel Member

      Location:
      London
      Tinnitus Since:
      2005
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Thought I’d jump in on this thread.

      I went to sleep with earplugs in last night due to being able to hear my neighbours. I also had white noise going on my phone as a matter of routine.

      I was woken during the night by what has to have been my tinnitus. One of my earplugs had fallen out and my ears felt REALLY agitated. I turned off the fan noise and took the earplugs out.

      The problem now though was that for the past few days I have a completely new noise in my right ear which I then tuned in to. So I tried the white noise again which then agitated my other ear! That was at 2.30 am and between then and 6.30 am I probably got another 30 minutes of sleep.

      My ears seem extra crackly this morning when I swallow. Like someone above me said, it’s hard to believe this is my situation right now. My daughter ran in this morning as I was getting ready for work and all I could do was cover my ears and ask my wife to take her away. I have a call with a doctor this morning but I can only see things getting worse. I try to keep an upbeat attitude but it’s a bad day today and I’m dreading going home tonight and going to bed.
       
    16. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I understand your reasons for wanting to use earplugs at night but it's not a good idea, especially for someone with noise induced tinnitus, and the fact that your auditory system has been irritated by a noise trauma some time ago. By using earplugs at night, you are blocking out external sounds and forcing your brain to home in on internal sounds within your body and head, which can increase the tinnitus. Sorry to sound so sobering but it's one of the worst things to do.

      Talk to your doctor as I previously mentioned, who may suggest medication to help with your moods. Tinnitus can affect our mental and emotional wellbeing a lot and this needs to be kept in check.

      Michael
       
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