Tinnitus Masking – Are these maskers valuable for all tinnitus sufferers

When one of the biggest problems in your life is the tinnitus sound you endure constantly in your head it is logical that in seeking tinnitus relief the one thing you desire above all else is to find somewhere to get some peace and quiet. How bizarre then that when you do find such a quiet place in which to relax, the noise in your ears steps up its volume and fills that quiet place with a voice of its own! Tinnitus masking can help here.

The two most difficult times for those living with tinnitus are firstly when they allow themselves to focus on their tinnitus sound, which will always result in the volume going up. Secondly, when they are in a quiet place and have no alternative sound to listen to. That is when the one sound they can hear is their tinnitus. With nothing else to concentrate on the tinnitus sound always fills the void and grabs the attention. There goes that vicious circle again.

One tried and tested way of gaining tinnitus relief is with the use of tinnitus masking. The concept is a simple one. The fact that tinnitus sound comes to the forefront of your attention during periods of quiet is turned on its head. This is achieved by utilizing another constant sound that the brain recognizes as being a friendly one, to distract attention away from the unwanted tinnitus sound.

I have used tinnitus masking myself to great effect. In fact, there are still days when perhaps I have allowed myself to become a bit stressed and I find my tinnitus returning. At such times I will use tinnitus masking to settle the symptoms down. Unquestionably it helps me.

Tinnitus masking has been in use since the mid-1970s. It uses a number of different devices designed to deliver alternative and friendly sounds to the tinnitus sufferer. The brain has an innate ability to discriminate between sounds that represent a threat and those that do not.

We have all spent time in situations where there has been a particularly intrusive noise such as perhaps the sound of a nearby railway. Over a period of time, we become so used to the sound we no longer notice it. That is not to say we don’t hear it. The brain filters out the sound as it recognizes that it is neither a threat nor important to our current situation.

Popular among tinnitus maskers is one that fits in the ear and is not unlike an earplug in appearance. Commonly called a tinnitus white noise machine this little battery-operated device emits a gentle volume controllable rushing sound. The brain recognizes this as a friendly sound and one that can be turned on and off at will. Because it is recognized in this way the brain gradually tunes into this sound at the expense of the tinnitus which recedes into the background.

Whilst not cheap to buy this form of tinnitus masking can be very effective, although, as with all forms of tinnitus relief, the fact that it works for one sufferer is no guarantee of success for another. My own experience with using white noise generators was that it did take some getting used to and I did suffer from sore ears at first when wearing them. But I can say that I had some success and that I consider it a very worthwhile element of any tinnitus relief program. I can also tell you that I do keep a pair to hand just in case the day comes when I feel the need to use them.

 Perhaps not surprisingly a standard hearing aid can often provide a degree of tinnitus relief. Its use goes some way towards regaining any lost hearing ability and thereby improves the heard sound to perceived sound balance. These can be even more effective when they have tinnitus masking incorporated within them. These devices are really quite sophisticated and use man-made sounds that have been extensively laboratory researched to deliver the desired result.

Probably the most popular form of tinnitus masking uses natural sounds such as ocean waves or rainfall. These are available as cd recordings and mp3 downloads but are often in the form of audiotapes played on a loop or within a sound therapy system. These are particularly popular with insomniacs and people having difficulty sleeping in a quiet room. Advanced software programs are also available taking this form of tinnitus masking to a higher level by combining natural sounds with synthetic or manmade sounds.

Tinnitus masking then has a valuable part to play for all tinnitus sufferers. Whether as part of a structured tinnitus relief program or on a more casual therapeutic level there will be very few sufferers who do not gain at least some tinnitus relief and relaxation by using one or more levels of tinnitus masking.

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