Tinnitus Maskers: Do You Need Them?[imwb_socialbuzz] By John On August 31, 2011 Under Tinnitus Cure
A hundred million people or so may be suffering from incessant ringing in the ears. In medical literature, it is called tinnitus, described as perception of noise that only exists internally. In other words, the noise heard by a tinnitus sufferer does not exist in the environment. So, wherever he goes, he will hear the noise. It’s not a disease on its own but is said to be a symptom of one. However, many cases of tinnitus seem to occur alone. It can be disconcerting, but it can be managed appropriately. Using tinnitus maskers is one strategy that aids sufferers to cope with it.
Masking works by providing a different sound stimulus for the sufferers. The masking noise is a broad spectrum noise that is usually called white noise or broadband noise. It’s quite similar to the noise you get when you turn your radio on and tune it into a blank frequency. The sound emitted by a tinnitus masker is soothing. When adjusted to the right volume, it can drown the ringing noise you hear in your ears. Masking is one of the usually used methods to manage tinnitus.
When should you wear a masker?
Many cases of tinnitus can be managed effectively without doing anything. Tinnitus is perhaps one of the most benign medical conditions. It only becomes a health problem if it interferes with sleep or causes psychological problems like anxiety and depression. On its own, it’s hardly a problem. Mild tinnitus, which claims a large percentage of tinnitus cases, can be managed even without medical attention. If you have mild tinnitus, you only hear it when the environment or surrounding is too quiet. People with mild ringing ears can go about their daily lives and forget or be unaware they have tinnitus.
Moderate tinnitus may need constant masking. People with moderate tinnitus may hear their ears ringing even in normal conditions, say inside an office or in the living room. With appropriate management, moderate tinnitus does not have to present a serious problem.
Do you need to go to your doctor?
Of course! A lot of people make a mistake of going directly to treatment, skipping the diagnosis. Some cases of tinnitus are caused by treatable disorders. If a doctor finds an infection or allergy to be the cause of your ringing ears, you will be treated appropriately depending on the specific cause.
Masking becomes an option for people who need relief from relentless ringing. When the phantom noise cannot be ignored by unaided habituation, broadband noise therapy ought to help. However, you cannot buy maskers on your own. You need to go to your audiologist to find out if a masker is the appropriate device for you. An audiologist will check your hearing and see if you have sustained hearing loss—because many cases of tinnitus occur with hearing loss.
If you have hearing loss, a hearing aid shall work to amplify your hearing and make tinnitus imperceptible. Hearing aids work like maskers, too, because they increase you awareness of the external noise. That way, the perception of internal noise is diminished to some extent.
When hearing loss is not detected, maskers will be recommended. A tinnitus masking device is not something that can be bought at a drugstore and worn right away. It needs to be adjusted to be fitting to you. First, the perceived intensity and pitch of your tinnitus are determined. Then a masking device will be customized to match the intensity and pitch of your tinnitus. You could get the wrong masker if you just buy from a seller. This is one reason why some patients complain maskers do not seem to work.
What are the advantages of tinnitus maskers?
Maskers work in simple ways. By providing a more pleasant noise for you to tune into, the amount of internal phantom noise heard is decreased to a significant amount. This provides relief for a lot of people who cannot concentrate at work or cannot sleep because of awful ringing inside their ears.
This noise therapy can be modified to include forms of counseling. Tinnitus retraining therapy may include use of white noise, the same kind of therapeutic noise used in masking. The goal is not to cover tinnitus noise but to help the patient cope with it through teaching them how to shift their focus from tinnitus to another sound. Throughout the course of this therapy, the patient is assisted by professional counselors or psychologists.
Masking, on the other hand, works only by keeping tinnitus from your perception. You will not hear tinnitus for as long as the masker is activated. Tinnitus becomes apparent again once the masker is turned off. However, there are reports of people experiencing short term residual inhibition, a period after removal of the masker when the patient does not hear tinnitus at all. Residual inhibition is uncommon though.
Do tinnitus maskers have disadvantages?
Maskers are quite harmless devices. They bring about immediate tinnitus relief. But it seems the effectiveness of masking is so limited as it brings relief only when worn. This makes patients dependent on maskers. Research also suggests that masking may hamper the natural process of habituation.