Using Sound to Relieve Tinnitus
Sound therapy for tinnitus relief comes in different forms including hearing aids, personal maskers, combination hearing aid/maskers and table top maskers. The general idea (older approach) of masking is that you use an external sound source to block or cover your tinnitus. At first thought people often ask, "Why would I want to have another noise to deal with?" The underlying concept is that you are in control of the external noise, you can turn it up, down or turn it off, so psychologically it is more acceptible. Typically, personal maskers provide a shaped white noise. We now have several excellent options that are high tech digital hearing aids and/or masking devices. With current sound therapy we do not attempt to cover your ear noise but rather to "blend it away." The sound is set to a point that it is equal to your ear noise. This blending of the masker sound with your tinnitus helps your brain to be distracted from your ear noise and thus diminishes it. Widex's offering is Zen, a proprietary feature, that offers both a noise generator and a music generator to offer tinnitus relief and relaxation. Zen is available in the Beyond, Unique, Dream, Clear, Menu and the Mind lines of hearing aids at most price points. For people with tinnitus who do not have hearing loss there is the Widex Zen2Go which has the Zen features but does not amplify sound. GN Resound offers a hearing aid with a very flexible noise generator. Three recent manufacturers to offer tinnitus features in their hearing instruments are Oticon, Starkey, and Phonak. All of these offer a very flexible shaped noise for tinnitus relief. The Starkey product has a very nice feature whereby the patient can adjust and shape the noise using an app for iPhone or iPad. The latest to get in to the area of tinnitus relief is Oticon. Oticon offers greater control over the type and shape of noise which has the benefit of making the noise more pleasant to listen to while offering very effective tinnitus relief. Oticon offers both shaped noises and "ocean" sounds. All of these models can be used all of the time or on an as needed basis. Table top models offer various sounds such as the ocean which can be more pleasant to listen to than shaped white noise. Starkey has a table top model call Sound Oasis which has six professional quality authentic nature sounds: Ocean Surf, Stream, Rain, White Noise, and Wind. In addition, Sound Oasis offers the world's only sound card technology for adding more sounds.