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Tinnitus maskers are devices that make sounds, usually white noise, or noises from nature (beaches, forests, rain, etc.) to mask the ringing in the sufferer’s head.
You may have noticed as a Tinnitus sufferer that when you are sleeping with something making white noise in the background (e.g., a fan or air-con), sleep comes to you a lot easier. This is because the exterior sound is masking the irritation that you are getting from the tinnitus.
This article will discuss why this effect happens, and how it can be used to give you some relief from your suffering, as well as recommending the best value Tinnitus maskers – sleeping machines and earplugs
Does masking help tinnitus?
Yes, most people who suffer from tinnitus, masking is a big help in reducing the problem. When there is a lot of background noise, tinnitus is not as easily heard and at times, completely forgotten about.
When in a quiet place, for example, when trying to sleep, tinnitus maskers, which are devices designed to play sounds to mask tinnitus can be used to block the sounds, thus helping you to sleep. You can also get maskers that you wear like earplugs so that you can have the sound blocked while you are out and about
I have had tinnitus myself for over 30 years, and when I am in my apartment, if I put on the fan, after a few minutes, I completely forget about the problem. If someone mentions tinnitus however, I immediately notice the ringing again
How does a tinnitus masker work?
These products are basically a speaker, with recorded noise stored on it. These noises tend to be white-noise, music or the sounds of nature, a beach, the forest, and babbling streams. When someone who suffers from tinnitus plays these sounds, they are usually at a level that will cover up or mask the ringing in the person’s ears. These devices are placed near the ear when relief is needed, or worn on the ears in some cases.
The volume of the ringing in the sufferer’s head is called the sensation level (SL). When you are using a tinnitus masking machine, the volume of the noise made needs to be slightly higher than the suffers sensation level. The loudness of the tinnitus is then reduced. The sounds produced are more relaxing than the high-pitched ringing heard by most sufferers.
Tinnitus maskers do not actually stop the problem. They reduce the awareness of the ringing.
The commonly analogy of how this works given is with light and dark. If you were to light a match in a dark room, it would be very bright, and anyone in the room would quickly notice it. Light the same match on a sunny day, and it would be far less noticeable. The brightness of the match is the same in both cases. The difference is that the sun is masking the light in the second example
R. Jackler MD - Tinnitus - What sounds are normal & which aren't?
What color noise is best for tinnitus?
Of the people surveyed that tried different types of noise and sounds, there was a slight preference for pink noise followed reasonably closely by white noise. These were both trailed over several days using tinnitus maskers. It was also noted that for people that noise-masking worked, both pink and white-noise had good results in both groups.
There was not enough data to comment on the other noise “Colors,” but as long as they are of a similar volume to the perceived ringing, the results should be similar
What is white/pink noise?
- White noise is generated by combining all of the sound frequencies together
- Pink noise is similar to white noise. However, the frequencies that we hear in everyday life are given more prominence.
The sounds of nature have also been tested, for example, water, forests, etc. These also worked well on the people that responded positively to the white and pink noises.
What does a tinnitus masker sound like?
There are examples of the sounds that maskers play on YouTube. Some common ones are linked below
- White noise
- Pink noise
- Beach sounds
- Forest sounds
Can tinnitus maskers make tinnitus worse?
Noise maskers should be played at a low volume, and as such, will not make your tinnitus permanently worse. A good noise masker should not be able to play sound at a damaging level.
However, while most people that I know get exceptional results when their tinnitus is masked by sounds, even if it is only a fan when going to sleep. This is not always the case.
For a few people, the background noise does nothing to mask their tinnitus, and this being the case, the background noise only adds to the annoyance of the ringing.
Is there a hearing aid that helps with tinnitus?
Yes, there are hearing aids that can help if you have tinnitus. According to the American Tinnitus Association:
“Patients with hearing loss and tinnitus may find relief from the use of hearing aids and other sound amplification devices. Hearing aids are small electronic devices worn in or behind the ear. Using a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, hearing aids supplement the volume of outside noise and increase the amount of sound stimuli received and processed by the body’s auditory system.”
The reasons for this relief are due to the following:
- Masking and Attentional Effects – The extra volume of external noises masks the tinnitus
- Auditory Stimulation – The increased volume helps stimulate the brains audio pathways
- Improved Communication – tinnitus can make it harder to communicate. Improving the outside volume to higher than the perceived ringing, means the person can hear better again
Why does tinnitus get louder sometimes?
As any sufferer from tinnitus will tell you some days, the perceived ringing is worse than other days. There are many reasons for this phenomena; these include:
- Being exposed to loud noises. This is the obvious reason. Loud noises make your ears ring
- Stress/anxiety. Some patents report that if they have a stressful day or they are anxious. Then their perceived ringing becomes louder
- Exercise. Suffers have also said that their tinnitus is better or worse after exercise. (For some people it improves, but others report it getting worse)
- Drugs. Certain drugs can make tinnitus worse. These include Aspirin, Antibiotics, antimalarial drugs as well as others
Having a Tinnitus masker is great on these days!
Possible tinnitus masker features
When you are looking at purchasing one of these devices, you may want to consider some of the following features to get the best tinnitus masker for your situation.
- Timer. Set the masker to play sounds for a predefined period then shut off when you are sleeping
- Bluetooth. Stream your own music or sounds to the device
- Rechargeable. If you have a portable device, then recharging and battery life may be important to you
- SD slot. Put your own music and sounds on your tinnitus masker
- White Noise. Has the ability to play white noise. (Or you can upload or stream it)
- Pink Noise. Has the ability to play pink noise. (Or you can upload or stream it)
- Natures sounds. Plays relaxing natural sounds, to block the ringing and help you relax
Tinnitus Maskers – Conclusions
The noise in your head when you have Tinnitus at times becomes unbearable. Having a background noise to mask that sound offers a lot of relief for most people affected, including myself.
Tinnitus Maskers are great devices for helping with tinnitus, either when you are trying to sleep, or even when you are out and about. Do not suffer trying to sleep with the ringing anymore; get some relief today!
- Buy with confidence. Lectrofan is designed in the USA and backed by a 1,000 day satisfaction guarantee.
- Provides ten fan sounds and ten ambient noise variations, including White noise, Pink noise and brown noise
- Helps mask disruptive environmental noises so you or your little one can fall asleep with ease
- Safe, solid-state design is powered by AC or USB and dynamically creates unique, non-repeating sounds with no moving parts
- Precise volume control allows you to set the perfect level for your unique environment
- 24 included sounds create an ideal selection of sounds to help you manage tinnitus and get the sleep you deserve. Many sounds were doctor composed, and all of the sounds were specifically chosen to deal with the highly personal nature of tinnitus.
- Patented Sleep Enhancement Technology - seamlessly and gradually slows playback speed to gently lull you to sleep.
- Professional, digitally recorded sounds reproduced in CD quality sound. Exclusive Customizable Sounds – simply download new sounds or order a custom sound card from the Sound Oasis web site.
- Chime Alarm Sound - no more loud annoying buzzer. Backlit Alarm Clock – wake to selected sound or chime; includes brightness control (3 brightness levels, plus off).
- Sleep Timer with Auto Shutoff – continuous play or auto shutoff in 30, 60 or 90 minutes. Operate with included global power adapter or by 4 AA batteries (not included). Global adapter has removable plugs for USA, Europe and Asia regions. Headphone Jack - for private use with headphones or pillow speakers.
- Automatic Feedback Compression DFS System , Monitor Whistle Freuqency Piont and Instant Remove it . Good for Take Mobile Phone
- Intelligent Noise Reduction System , Detect and Recognize the Noise Wave, Change the Gain of the Channel Where the Noise is Located, Make Normal Speed More Clearly
- Ultra-Low Machine Itself Background Noise , and Ultralight Weight Body You Don't Even Feel Wearing It
- Buttom VC : Adjust Volume Control to Adaptive Different Enviroments ,S,M,L, 3 Size Eraplugs Make it More Fit and Comfortable to Ear Canal
- Comfort Threshold Control ; Automatic Gain Control-Output for Hearing Protection, No Need to Suffer from Sudden Loud Noise Anymore
- Play 20 Built-in Made for Tinnitus Sounds recommended by audiologists around the world.
- Stream Sounds/Music with Built-in Bluetooth technology - 30'/10m Bluetooth range
- Enjoy Included Sound Oasis Professional Tinnitus Frequency App with soothing sounds
- Use Built-in rechargeable battery (4-5 hours per charge) or keep plugged in with included charge cable
- Help Manage Tinnitus and Improve Sleep with Included Living with Tinnitus Booklet
People Also Ask
What is the most effective treatment for tinnitus?
There are a few ways that tinnitus can be treated; these are not always effective, which is why there are so many people still suffering from it. Below are some of the treatments available
- Tinnitus retraining therapy. This helps some people. This treatment has two parts directive counseling and sound therapy. The process can be expensive (around $3000) and takes approximately one to two years
- Low doses of anti-anxiety or anti-depression drugs like Elavil or Valium have been shown to help in some cases
- Steroids and anti-anxiety medication implanted into the middle ear has been shown to be effective in other people
What is the best vitamin for tinnitus?
To maintain healthy hearing, it is best to have a balanced diet that includes all of the required vitamins and minerals. However it has been shown that vitamin B can particularly help.
“Most B-complex vitamins cannot be kept in the body and must be replaced daily from food sources. B vitamins help maintain healthy skin, eyes, muscle tone, and support the functions of the liver and central nervous system. They are also important in helping to deal with depression, stress, and anxiety. The variety of B vitamins is normally taken together, but occasionally one B vitamin is used to treat a particular disorder. Deficiency in B vitamins can result in weakness, low blood counts, skin and hair problems, nervousness, poor night vision, tinnitus and hearing loss. Vitamin B-complex supplements appear to be effective in some patients with tinnitus by providing a stabilizing effect on the nerves.” Michael Seidman, M.D., F.A.C.S
Why is tinnitus louder at night?
Although it can seem like your tinnitus gets louder at night when you are trying to sleep, however, this is rarely the case.
During the day you are exposed to a lot of sounds, from the TV in your living room, cars and busses on the streets, to background talking. All of this sound helps to mask the sound of your tinnitus, so you notice it less. Also your brain is focused on other tasks.
When it comes to sleeping, your bedroom is typically silent, and your brain is not distracted. All of this means that you notice the ringing that was there all day far more quickly.
If you require more information, please check these references
www.tandfonline.com , article, “A clinical study of tinnitus maskers”, retrieved on, Thu 07-November-2019
www.cambridge.org , article, “The use of Walkman mini-sterco system as a tinnitus masker”, retrieved on, Thu 07-November-2019
journals.sagepub.com , article, “Medical Treatment of Tinnitus”, retrieved on, Thu 07-November-2019
europepmc.org , article, “Attemps to relieve tinnitus.”, retrieved on, Thu 07-November-2019
en.wikipedia.org , article, “Tinnitus Masker”, retrieved on, Thu 07-November-2019
About the author
Nick is a Computer programmer with 25 years experience working in the Industry. Past clients include The BBC, Natwest, British Rail.and Torbay Council.
Nick has suffered with Tinnitus for over 25 years