What is TINNITUS?
From the Latin for ‘ringing’, tinnitus can best be defined as the conscious experience of noise with no apparent external source. The nature and intensity of tinnitus varies greatly from one sufferer to another, with the most commonly reported sounds being ringing and/or high-pitched whistling.
These noises may be heard all day or for brief periods at a time, can be noise-induced or due to no apparent root cause, and can be seen by the sufferer as a mild annoyance or a severely debilitating condition. These huge variances from case to case make the condition difficult to treat, but contrary to popular myth, help is available.
Tinnitus is often related to hearing loss
Tinnitus is more than an annoying and in some cases debilitating affliction. It is often the companion and symptom of hearing loss, especially among the elderly. Ringing, buzzing or humming in your ears becomes more prevalent with age.
European studies estimate that between 7 and 14 percent of the population have talked with their doctors about tinnitus, while potentially disabling tinnitus occurs in between 1 and 2.4 percent of people. Tinnitus may be related to medical conditions, but in the elderly it is most commonly associated with hearing loss.
Prolonged tinnitus is treated in a number of ways. If clinical hearing loss is present, hearing aids may help decrease the sense of noise in the ears. In some cases, hearing aids may be used in combination with other devices masking the sound.
Source: National Health Interview Survey, 1996. American Tinnitus Association. Geriatric Times, July 1, 2003
The modern management of tinnitus involves a number of components; identifying the effects, teaching and demystification, sound enrichment, instrumentation and retraining tactics – the objective being to banish the tinnitus to below the threshold of consciousness. Made to fit discreetly in or behind the ear, white noise generators (tinnitus maskers) are a valuable asset in tinnitus retraining therapy. The white noise emitted by these devices is used as a stimulus for the noise receptors within the inner ear, thus helping to re-train the brain to manage the tinnitus effectively. Other masking stimuli consist of various sound files such as nature, soothing music and gentle sounds of life.
White Noise (Masking)
White noise, by its very definition, means equal amounts of all frequencies in the entire frequency spectrum, and while a tinnitus sufferer with a mild hearing loss may not necessarily need a hearing aid, they do interpret white noise differently to individuals with perfect hearing. As white noise is intended to stimulate all receptors within the ear, this hearing discrepancy may have a significant bearing on how quickly and effectively the patient responds to tinnitus treatment. Digital white noise generators are fully programmable and allow the output to be tailored so that the patient experiences the white noise as intended, thus making the device more effective when used as part of a tinnitus retraining program.
WNG (White Noise Generator)
WNG devices emit a noise intended to distract the brain from the annoying ringing sounds of tinnitus, thereby “masking” it. These devices are available in a range of products. Hearing Healthcare recommends and supplies the MM6 Tinnitus Masker. It is available in three output levels (60dB standard), and comes in two variations to fit either the left or right ear. The MM6 fits comfortable within the helix area of the ear, giving a completely open ear for maximum sound collection and ease of use.
Other Tinnitus Sound Generators (Zen)
As an alternative to the standard Masking White Noise Generators, there is the Zen sound therapy from Widex. Instead of a hissing sound, this is an infinite dynamic melody of fractal tones designed to the person’s personal volume level and pace.
There are a number of Apps for moblie phones which are available free of charge. Here are two:
Please contact us for more details.