How do I Choose the Best Tinnitus Masker?

Marty Paule

When it comes to choosing a tinnitus masker, there are a number of different types, but all operate using the same principle. They emit an external sound or noise at a frequency that masks the internal ringing and buzzing noises tinnitus sufferers hear. Wearable tinnitus maskers are usually supplied by audiologists after determining the severity of the tinnitus and frequencies involved. In some cases where hearing loss is also an issue, a tinnitus masker may be incorporated into a hearing aid. In other cases, patients find that their tinnitus is substantially reduced when they use a conventional hearing aid.

Ringing in the ears can be a symptom of a ruptured eardrum.
Ringing in the ears can be a symptom of a ruptured eardrum.

There are several options in choosing a tinnitus masker for stationery use, such as when you're sleeping or working at a desk. Inexpensive CDs and MP3 recordings are available with synthesized white or pink noise and natural sounds, such as ocean surf or running water, that are most likely to mask tinnitus. A simple test to determine if these recordings are likely to help you is to stand at a running faucet paying attention to whether or not the sound of the flowing water masks your internal tinnitus noises. There are also bedside units and pillows with embedded speakers in them that emit tinnitus-masking broadband noise and natural sounds. Some users of wearable maskers prefer one of these options at night, as opposed to leaving the wearable tinnitus masker in their ears.

Tinnitus caused by a middle ear infection may be treated using antibiotics.
Tinnitus caused by a middle ear infection may be treated using antibiotics.

A wearable tinnitus masker is worn like an in-ear hearing aid and generates sounds containing frequencies that mask the patient's internal tinnitus noises. The sounds generated are designed to be more pleasant to the patient than the tinnitus. Modern tinnitus maskers offer fine-tuning control that allows the audiologist to match the exact frequency of the tinnitus. These devices are usually available for lease or sale on a trial basis and may be returned if they do not provide relief.

Some tinnitus hearing aids can mask the ringing sounds caused by the condition.
Some tinnitus hearing aids can mask the ringing sounds caused by the condition.

If you have significant hearing loss in addition to tinnitus, you may be a good candidate for a tinnitus instrument. These hybrid devices incorporate a hearing aid and tinnitus masker in the same unit, allowing the user to turn off the hearing aid function for sleep while the tinnitus masker continues to emit its sound. A bedside unit or tinnitus-masking pillow is a second, less costly option for sleep. Some patients report a lessening of tinnitus noises after being fitted with a conventional hearing aid. Other patients find that after turning off their in-ear tinnitus masker, the tinnitus noise continues to be reduced for some time, an effect known as residual inhibition.

Tinnitus can make it hard to concentrate, especially on soft sounds in a quiet room.
Tinnitus can make it hard to concentrate, especially on soft sounds in a quiet room.

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