Using a Tinnitus Masker for Tinnitus Relief
I don’t have hearing loss but I do have tinnitus, what should I do?
If you experience a ringing, buzzing, chirping or any other sound that is not coming from your physical environment, you may have something called tinnitus. Tinnitus is “The perception of sound when no actual external noise is present. While it is commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears”, tinnitus can manifest in many different perceptions of sound, including buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, and clicking ”, (American Tinnitus Association, 2020).
Having tinnitus may be a sign that a hearing loss is present however, it may also be a symptom of a different underlying condition. Not everyone who has tinnitus will have a hearing loss, and not everyone with a hearing loss will experience tinnitus however, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, “An estimated 50 million Americans experience tinnitus (ringing in the ears); 90 percent of those also have hearing loss”, (American Tinnitus Association, 2021).
So, what happens if you don’t believe you have hearing loss? We would first recommend that you have your hearing evaluated professionally by a hearing care professional. Even if you do not suspect a hearing loss it is important to first rule hearing loss out before proceeding.The brain can adapt to how it is hearing with a hearing loss and small or minimal hearing losses may be perceived as normal to the individual. If you are in the Charlotte, North Carolina area and would like to schedule an appointment to evaluate the status of your hearing please visit Levine Hearing.
If you have completed a hearing assessment by a hearing care professional and it reveals normal hearing, there could be two possibilities as to why you may be experiencing your tinnitus. One, tinnitus can be a result of any change in auditory function. This means that even if you are found to be within a normal range of hearing, your thresholds could have been “more” normal when you were younger, and a decline may have occurred however, the drop in hearing is still within normal limits. This change in auditory function could have resulted in the perception of your tinnitus. Or two, your tinnitus may not be the result of a hearing loss. As we discussed earlier tinnitus may be present due to a number of underlying conditions. Those of which should be evaluated by your local Ear, Nose, and Throat physician or primary care provider.
If you are found to have hearing loss and tinnitus it is always important to treat the hearing loss first in order to appropriately manage your tinnitus. So, what do you do if you are found to have no hearing loss? Well first it is important to speak to your doctor to rule out any other underlying conditions that may be causing your tinnitus. The next step would be to speak to your hearing care professional regarding your tinnitus as management may be slightly different compared to our patients who do have a hearing loss.
Although the typical management strategy for tinnitus is hearing aids, it is not the end all be all for tinnitus management especially if you do not have a measurable hearing loss. There are other forms of management such as the use of an ear level sound generator also known as a tinnitus masker.
What is Tinnitus Masker?
A tinnitus masker looks like a hearing aid; however, there is little to no amplification of sound. Instead, the tinnitus masker actually emits a soft audible noise at all times with the purpose of distracting your brain from your tinnitus. The noise it emits could be in the form of a white noise or even instrumental music. This device can stream via Bluetooth connection to your cell phone if you would like to play your own variety of calming sounds to help soothe and reduce your tinnitus.
A tinnitus masker is different from traditional Bluetooth-enabled earpieces as it allows all outside environmental sounds into your ears to be detected at a normal level. This device is to be worn to enrich your environment with sound. It is not meant to overpower or cover up your tinnitus, or distract you from conversational speech instead, it is meant to just match the level of your tinnitus so that your brain has another stimulus to focus on instead of the tinnitus sound which may result in the decreased perception of your tinnitus.
A tinnitus masker will not cure your tinnitus however, it is a useful tool to select in the management of your tinnitus. There is no cure for tinnitus however, there are excellent management solutions, one of which being the tinnitus masker. If you have any questions regarding the tinnitus masker or would like more information and you are in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, you are more than welcome to make an appointment to speak to one of our hearing healthcare professionals here at Levine Hearing.