What Can I Do When Even Masking Doesn't Seem to Work?

Discussion in 'Support' started by Raphael7713, Jun 25, 2017.

    1. Raphael7713
      Alone

      Raphael7713 Member

      Location:
      Stockholm, Sweden.
      Tinnitus Since:
      January 14, 2017.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure
      Masking has been my savior the last three weeks. I haven't been masking my tinnitus for the entirely three weeks, sometimes I manage to sleep without it. But sometimes I feel like I need it.

      The problem is however, at first white noise worked brilliantly for me. Then for some strange reason my tinnitus just found a way around it. Then I used another sound...worked great, then my brain found a way around it.

      So what can I do when even masking seems not to work?
       
    2. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      @Raphael7713

      Tinnitus should never be masked or covered up so that you are unable to hear it. If you do this then you are not allowing your brain to habituate to the tinnitus. Please read the post below. Also, click on the link at the bottom of the page and read my article: Tinnitus, A Personal View. Try to read it in full and not skim through it.
      All the best
      Michael

      Should I mask my tinnitus?

      Tinnitus is a complex condition and if hyperacusis (sensitivity to sound) is present it is even more. Many newbies have difficulty coping with tinnitus and understandably, getting rid of this constant intruder, that has suddenly invaded their life becomes paramount on their mind. In an attempt to do this, they will usually try every means possible to distract themselves from the tinnitus which will include masking it completely with another sound so that it can’t be heard.

      However, tinnitus is quite resilient, any attempts to mask it completely are usually unsuccessful. As soon as the masking sound is removed or stopped temporarily, the brain will immediately focus back on it and often, it appears to be louder and more intrusive. This causes stress especially for someone new to tinnitus. For anyone that doesn’t know, the more stressed we are the tinnitus becomes more intrusive, and the louder the tinnitus is the more stressed we are. It can become a vicious circle.

      Anyone that is seasoned to tinnitus and has habituated, knows that trying to mask it completely so that it can’t be heard is not achievable. A much better way and preferred method that Hearing Therapists advise tinnitus patients, is to use sound enrichment. One can use music or nature sounds from a sound machine and set the volume slightly below the tinnitus. By doing this, the brain over time will learn to no longer see the tinnitus as a threat and gradually push the noise further into the background giving it less importance, which is called habituation.

      In-ear or BTE (behind the ear) white noise generators can also be used as part of TRT. They do a similar thing. By setting the volume slightly below the tinnitus, over time the brain habituates to the white noise and gradually pushes the tinnitus further into the background.

      Michael

      PS: in my opinion, anyone that has tinnitus, especially when it was caused by loud noise exposure, it is not a good idea to use headphones, even at low volume to play music or white noise for sound enrichment.

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-a-personal-view.18668/
       
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    3. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      A number of people have asking me about the masking of tinnitus, so thought I would revive this post again.
      Michael
       
    4. G61

      G61 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Head and neck trauma
      So don't mask it and learn how to sleep without masking the tinnitus. I know it's hard to accept but every long-term tinnitus sufferer learns how to do it eventually.
       
    5. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Location:
      Brighton, UK
      Tinnitus Since:
      April /1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise induced
      Hi @G61

      Please click on the links below and read my tinnitus articles. Tinnitus shouldn't be "masked" or covered up so that it can't be heard. A much better way is to use a sound machine for "sound enrichment" and set the volume slightly below your tinnitus. This way, you are not entirely listening to tinnitus alone.

      Tinnitus answers

      I was recently asked the following questions by a few people and have decided to submit my replies here, as they might be of help to others. Names have been omitted.

      “My T was caused by headphones, I’m 8 weeks in and can’t cope, any advice please”? “You have had T for many years. Can you honestly say that you enjoy life”? “Have you reached the stage where u now say "xxxx it" and live ur life”? “How is ur sleep”? “I’m also convinced that if you can teach ur brain certain things T can be totally demolished. Do u agree”? “My T is reactive to sound any advice on this”? “Where can I go to for professional help”?

      I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulty coping with tinnitus at the moment and know this isn’t an easy time for you. On the positive front, most people habituate to tinnitus within the first six months to a year sometimes a little longer. They are usually able to carry on with their life doing everything that they want to without too much problems. Many things can cause tinnitus but the most common are: headphone use and going to places where loud music is played. Clubs, concerts including the cinema. I advise you not to listen to any type of audio through headphones even at low volume. When going to places where sound levels are likely to be high, I suggest wearing noise-reducing earplugs. These have built in filters and are different from foam earplugs.

      Please read my article: Tinnitus, A Personal View, as you might find it helpful. The link is at the bottom of the page along with Hyperacusis, As I see it. Experiencing sensitivity to sound is very common with loud “noise trauma” The Reactive tinnitus that you mention is a direct result of this and is known as Hyperacusis. There are various ways of treating it that are covered in Hyperacusis, as I see it, as well as how to use noise reducing earplugs correctly. Some people over use them because of their sensitivity to sound. Doing this treats the symptom not the cause and therefore, without realising it the overuse of earplugs can make the auditory system hypersensitive to sound, so if one isn’t careful they can make the condition worse.

      No two people will experience tinnitus the same and our emotional make up also plays a big part in how we are able to cope with it. Some people might need professional help in dealing with it and I’m a firm believer in this. Tinnitus is an integral part of a person’s mental health and cannot be separated from it. The more stressed we become the more intrusive the tinnitus will be. Anything that helps to relax us will usually have a positive impact on the tinnitus and make it more tolerable. Counseling with Hearing Therapist or Audiologist trained in tinnitus management can be of immense help and should be considered. Please click, on the links below for more advice on this.

      Some people believe habituation means they will no longer hear the tinnitus but this is incorrect. However, it’s true that for some, their tinnitus can reduce to such a low level they hardly ever hear it. By contrast, others hear their tinnitus in the background and can live quite contently doing all the things they want to because their brain has learned to ignore it, and that’s what habituation is, learning to live with something. When you habituate you will feel a lot different to how you feel now, even if your tinnitus spikes occasionally. Your focus will not be so much on how to train your brain to demolish it. It takes time but most people can achieve a lot. Please click on the habituation link below.

      I have had tinnitus a long time and unfortunately was medically retired from my job because of it. I wasn’t forced out as my employer helped me a lot but my tinnitus can be particularly severe at times, which wasn’t an ideal situation. People often use the terms: “I want to enjoy my life”. Or "Is it possible to enjoy life with tinnitus”?

      I try to be a positive thinking person even in my down times. Although there was one point when I had reached my lowest ebb and that was in 2010. My tinnitus was variable and could reach very severe levels. After two years of TRT which helped but wasn’t as successful as the first time, I started to get depressed as I wasn’t making further improvement. I asked my consultant to be candid about my condition. She looked at me with concern and said, I was the second worst tinnitus patient she had met. I wanted the floor to open and swallow me whole as I felt so down and dark clouds were looming overhead. I asked for the truth and I got it. She continued with: “ I will never give up on treating you”.

      It took four years to habituate the second time. I have been through many ups and downs with this condition just like other veterans. Tinnitus has made me into a stronger person and to appreciate the good things in my life, which I consider to be a lot compared to what others have in this world and what they have to endure. A roof over my head, food in the fridge and be able to sleep peacefully at night. To those at home reading this post on their computer it may not seem like a lot or something taken for granted. However, in some parts of the world people are unable to do or have these things for one reason or another. War, famine or total despair, take your choice because it’s all out there for you to see.

      Accentuate the positive things in your life and this will help eliminate the negative.

      Michael

      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-a-personal-view.18668/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/hyperacusis-as-i-see-it.19174/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/can-tinnitus-counselling-help.22366/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/tinnitus-and-mental-health.21978/
      https://www.tinnitustalk.com/threads/is-habituation-possible.12758/
       
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    6. DebInAustralia
      Fine

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Advocate

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      30/12/13
      i rarely need white noise on at night to sleep

      it annoys me more than the t these days

      it took 2 weeks to zz without sound...

      the 1st weeks were hellish. really thought my quiet time was gone for good. now when i lay my head down to sleep, i either dont notice it or it just doesnt bother me like it used to.

      i found it helpful to use cbt/mindfulness.

      easier said than done, but ive learnt how to not care about the noise as much as i used to. in this way, it has lost its grip on me.

      i sleep like a baby these days
       
    7. Michael Leigh

      Michael Leigh Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

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

      Some people believe using white noise or nature sounds at night is for helping a person to sleep. Whilst there might be some truth to this, the main reason is to treat tinnitus and hyperacusis.

      When we are asleep, the auditory pathways and brain are still active. If the brain hears silence it has the ability to increase the level of the tinnitus making it louder and more intrusive during waking hours. The sound machine with its low level non intrusive sounds, will gently deliver sound enrichment to the brain while we sleep which will, over time help it to push the tinnitus further into the background of the mind making it less noticeable during the day and helps the habituation process.

      If hypercusis is present sound enrichment will also help to desensitise the auditory system. The level of the sounds should be kept below the tinnitus and not masking it or covering it up. Anything new that we bring into our lives takes time to get used to. Most people are used to sleeping in their bedroom at night in complete silence. Therefore the sound machine takes a while to get used to but once the benefits are realised most people don't want to be without it.

      Many people have contacted me after they have habituated to their tinnitus and stopped using sound enrichment at night, only to find their tinnitus becoming intrusive again. The rule of thumb is to try and avoid quiet rooms and surroundings especially at night by using a sound machine.

      Michael
       
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    8. DebInAustralia
      Fine

      DebInAustralia Member Benefactor Advocate

      Location:
      Geelong, Victoria
      Tinnitus Since:
      30/12/13
      im aware of that Michael. simply stating i dont need it at night
       
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