Wearable White Noise Generators (WNGs) — Why Not Standard Issue for Tinnitus Patients?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Poseidon65, Dec 24, 2020.

    1. Poseidon65

      Poseidon65 Member Benefactor

      Tinnitus Since:
      1/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Loud concert
      Among tinnitus patients, it seems extremely common to use sound enrichment inside the home. This can either be a natural sound (e.g. a fan or air conditioner), or an artificial sound (e.g. a white noise generators, or WNGs). I'll note that in my case, a WNG masks my tinnitus much more effectively than a fan, because a WNG can target frequencies which are close to my tinnitus, which a fan cannot.

      This being the case, I find it surprising that wearing WNGs outside the home, where they can help mask your tinnitus (at the right frequencies) all of the time, is not more common.

      To me, it seems like wearing a WNG at all times would be pretty standard for tinnitus patients. Specifically, wearable WNGs seem akin to any other treatment which is continuously used by patients, such as eyeglasses, or a back brace, or compression socks, etc.

      But this is not the case. Does anyone know why? That is: why are wearable WNGs *not* used by most tinnitus patients, even those who are bothered by their tinnitus when outside?
       
      • Informative Informative x 1
    2. Orions Pain
      Sad

      Orions Pain Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      11/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      A series of unfortunate events
      They are expensive. Some people have reactive tinnitus and/or noise distortions. Not all tinnitus is a high pitched frequency that can be matched or masked.

      I think lots of people do use them and find them helpful, but those people aren’t on this forum. A lot of people here have more complex issues but we’re not the majority.
       
      • Agree Agree x 1
    3. Lilah
      Blah

      Lilah Member Benefactor

      Location:
      USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I think WNGs are more frequently issued in the U.K. because they are covered by NHS. Not sure about other countries. In the U.S., I called a few audiology clinics and learned that they do not sell WNGs (one suggested that I search Amazon).

      Here, it seems we have to buy hearing aids with masking feature, which are very expensive so people generally do not pursue in-ear devices. I think if you have mild or moderate tinnitus, you can probably do without in-ear maskers.

      I've been procrastinating on getting hearing aids because of the cost, but I changed my insurance so hopefully it will be partially covered in the new year.

      Here, hearing aids are generally not covered by insurance or only cover a small portion.
       
      • Genius Genius x 1
    4. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      HI @Poseidon65.

      White noise generators are specialist devices and should be used under the care of an Audiologist/Hearing Therapist to treat tinnitus & hyperacusis and often used as part of TRT. They shouldn't be used to mask or cover-up the tinnitus so it can't be heard, as this can make the condition worse. Lilah is right they are frequently issued in the UK and I have been using them for over 20 years. They can be bought privately but this isn't advised, unless a person is suitable and advised how to use them correctly.

      Two types are available. In-ear and BTE (behind the ear) which look similar to hearing aids. I have both designs. The BTE white noise generator was supplied by the NHS and also incorporates hearing aids. My Audiologist disabled them via computer, when I was fitted as I don't have hearing loss. Read my TRT posts on my started threads, giving more information on white noise generators and how best to used them.

      All the best
      Michael
       
    5. Steve Feldo

      Steve Feldo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Hi, I’m in the UK and have in ear WNG’s prescribed by my NHS audiologist and tuned on to my particular volume and tone - they can be increased/decreased though. My Tinnitus is not thought to be sound induced, it developed shortly after a head injury about 4 1/2 years ago, I don’t have a constant tone - I experience a fluctuating hissing and electrical chirping which does vary in volume to the extent that I have days where I can completely forget it and don’t need the maskers, and others where it’s pretty intolerable and they have been invaluable.
      I do notice that my T can become angrier on bad days when I’m wearing the maskers - it’s a 5/10 today so I’m going to go without and see whether it makes any difference. I have read that a fluctuating auditory range is better than a constant tone such as white noise
      Weirdly I’ve gone several years perfectly habituated, it’s only become irritating again over the last few weeks
      Steve
       
    6. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Since you have habituated for many years and the tinnitus has recently increased there could be various reasons for this. Stress is one factor or an underlying medical problem within your auditory system which may need investigating at ENT if the tinnitus becomes problematic. However, if you are a regular user of headphones, earbuds or use a headset, this is more likely the cause of the increase. Listening to loud music at home on in the car can cause it too or being exposed to other forms of loud noise.

      White noise generators are not Maskers. Their purpose is to supply sound enrichment to the auditory system. Ideally, the white noise should be kept slightly lower than the tinnitus and not masking it. WNGs assist in the habituation process and treat oversensitivity to sound, commonly known as hyperacusis often a result of noise trauma.

      Michael
       
    7. Steve Feldo

      Steve Feldo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thanks Michael. I've not been doing anything that would exacerbate my tinnitus, that's the thing! I'm healthy, exercise loads, and tend to avoid obvious triggers.

      My tinnitus is so unpredictable - yesterday was virtually silent - today, woke up at 3 am and was fine, then again at 5 am - I'm sure I could actually hear the volume increase as I was lying there - so today I've got that swirling irritating metallic hissing in my head. The thing is, it could be back to 'normal' tomorrow!

      It does seem odd that I have gone so long without it being an issue and for the last few weeks on and off it's been quite intrusive!

      Steve
       
    8. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

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

      Respectively I disagree with some of your comments.

      A person can habituate to tinnitus that fluctuates randomly I'm such a person. Please read my post: My experience with tinnitus, on my Started threads. After years of habituation it changed in 2008 after sudden noise trauma, to what it is today. Yesterday the tinnitus was loud and I was tempted to take my clonazepam but didn't and endured it as it can reduce on its own accord. Today it is still intrusive but not as severe.

      You may think nothing is responsible for the change in your tinnitus but there usually is a reason. The fact that you do loads of exercise, is something you should look at especially if it involves aerobics, running on hard ground or on a treadmill. Impact with the ground travels up through the legs into the upper body, head and auditory system. Some people (not all) that run notice an increase in the tinnitus. I use an elliptical machine so my feet do not make contact with the floor. Vigorous exercising can do the same.

      Try to avoid sleeping in a quiet room as silence at night isn't usually good for people with tinnitus. Use low level sound enrichment. More information is in my article: Tinnitus, A Personal View, on my started threads.

      All the best
      Michael
       
    9. Steve Feldo

      Steve Feldo Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/16
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Thanks Michael, I'll check out your previous posts! I don't run at the moment, although when I did, I would definitely get a temporary increase in tinnitus. My exercise is non impact, such as cycling - I even use ear protection on the static trainer.

      Noted re the quiet room too, I do periodically have background noise via an app or Spotify playlist... but my wife sometimes finds it annoying! Guess we need to find something that works for us both ;-)

      Steve
       
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    10. T Toledo OH

      T Toledo OH Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/26/20
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Likely loud noise and earbuds
      Michael, are you not habituated?
       
    11. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      I have habituated to the way my tinnitus behaves. Habituation can mean different things to different people. I have explained my definition of it at length in my post: The Habituation Process (linked below). Some people believe habituation means they should never hear the tinnitus, and once this is achieved they can go on to lead their life, just as they did before the onset of the condition.

      If they wish to believe this that's entirely their choice but I think they are be setting themselves up for a lot of disappointment, if these ideals are not realized. In the case of noise-induced tinnitus which is my what I am familiar with, whether hyperacusis is present or not. Some people want to return to using headphones, earbuds, headsets and listen to loud music. They can do this but they risk making the tinnitus worse and I have mentioned this in many posts.

      One way of knowing whether you or anyone else has habituated to tinnitus is their reaction to it. A person will not complain about it too much as they have learnt to live with it and accept all of its idiosyncrasies. This is the way tinnitus can behave. This is not easy especially when the tinnitus is variable in intensity. Some people have said, if I had truly habituated then I wouldn't visit this forum. I visit various forums and not all relate to tinnitus. There are specific reasons for this that I might mention in the future. My reasons for visiting this forum is to help people with tinnitus, as I was once helped twenty years ago in a forum similar to this one.

      Please peruse my post history. Rarely do I complain about the severity of my tinnitus or mention that it stops me from doing things. I admit that it can reach severe levels for it is completely random, but I have learnt to accept it and get on with my life to the best of my ability and accentuating positivity. There was a time it was unbelievably severe and hopefully those days never return. It is all mentioned in my post: My Experience with Tinnitus.

      All the best
      Michael

      The Habituation Process | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      My Experience with Tinnitus | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    12. DavidTyl

      DavidTyl Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi @Michael Leigh, may I ask what purpose you still use your WNGs for? I assume it is not for masking and you seem to have your hyperacusis under control.
       
    13. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @DavidTyl.



      I realise you are probably going through a difficult time with tinnitus.

      My tinnitus is variable and occasionally use white noise generators just for sound enrichment, keeping the volume below the tinnitus and not masking it. Sometimes I even use them when the tinnitus is completely silent. Try to remember tinnitus should not be masked as it can make habituation more difficult and using white noise generators to totally mask the tinnitus, could make it worse.

      I do not experience any hyperacusis. It was completely cured 22 years ago when I had TRT and wore white noise generators for 2 years.

      Michael
       
    14. DavidTyl

      DavidTyl Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Hi Michael, my responses keep getting deleted so I don't know what is happening here. I have sound generators and like you, my tinnitus varies. If this is the case I am assuming it is a form of hyperacusis. I don't understand - if you are saying you are cured of hyperacusis why then does your tinnitus vary so much? Is this just normal tinnitus? If so, what is hyperacusis? I am confused. Thanks.
       
    15. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      White noise generators can be used to treat hyperacusis and tinnitus.
      My hyperacusis is completely cured. The fluctuation in my tinnitus has nothing to do with hyperacusis. Tinnitus can be be experienced differently between people. I have explained this in my post: Tinnitus, A Personal View. I have sent you various links to articles on my Started Threads. Please read them as they explain what tinnitus and hyperacusis is.

      Hyperacusis is often accompanies tinnitus that is noise induced. A person that is affected by hyperacusis has an oversensitivity to sound or certain sounds. It comes in various levels of severity and can be acutely painful for some people. I have explained this in my post: Hyperacusis, As I See It, in the link below. It is also covered in Tinnitus, A Personal View, under Answers to hyperacusis and habituation.

      Michael

      Tinnitus, A Personal View | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
      Hyperacusis, As I See It | Tinnitus Talk Support Forum
       
    16. DavidTyl

      DavidTyl Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2017
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise Exposure
      Thanks Michael. I am not quite convinced with this 'sound enrichment' concept from these devices but that is just me. I say this as I can only deduce from from your literature that you are gaining neither a positive or negative effect from using them; meaning they seem to not be reducing or adding to your symptoms. Although there have been many false dawns, I imagine you cannot wait for the day science manages to place upon us a realistic chance to definitively abate/cure tinnitus once and for all.

      At least some with some of the current medical trials taking place, they are giving us all hope for hearing loss and tinnitus treatments.

      I imagine you are excited about this after 20 years in the unfortunate game.
       
    17. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

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

      HI David.

      Thank you for your comments. I hoped that after reading my posts your conclusions about me and what I have written would be different. I accept what you say for that is your opinion and therefore will not try to dissuade. All I ask that you print my posts, then take your time and read them instead of on a phone or computer screen. Please refer to them more than once.

      I have always said white noise generators can help tinnitus and hyperacusis but best backed up with counselling. Either with an Audiologist or Hearing Therapist that is trained in tinnitus and hyperacusis management. My articles on TRT explain this.
      I am quite happy and content with the way I'm able to manage my tinnitus at the moment even though it can be problematic. There was a time I wished going to bed and not waking up, and spent 4 long years getting my life back, after my tinnitus changed dramatically in 2008. Please read my post: My experience with tinnitus, again. This time print it. Science does have a place in this world but please believe me when I say, I have no desire to try out any new treatment for tinnitus.
      I am not excited or spend time reading reams of data on websites about tinnitus, hyperacusis and science. That is not say I'm averse, to the medical profession wanting to find new and better treatments for these conditions.

      At the moment some of the best treatments for Noise induced tinnitus and hyperacusis are: Sound Therapy, white noise generators, counselling, mindfullnes. relaxation therapy and medication. One or a combination of these treatments, can often help a person to have a better quality of life.

      Take care and wish you all the best.
      Michael
       
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