Tinnitus is something that affects a number of people, especially those who are already experiencing hearing loss. Although it is often described as being a ringing in the ears, it can also manifest in hissing, whooshing, whistling, humming, and buzzing sounds. Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available, including sound therapy.
Visiting an Audiologist
The first thing that you’ll want to do if you are suffering from ringing in the ears caused by tinnitus is to visit an audiologist who can help you determine if sound therapy is right for you. They will ask you various questions about your tinnitus including how long you’ve had it, how frequently you get it, if it changes throughout the day, how loud the sound is, if the sound is high- or low-pitched, which ear you’re hearing it in, and if you notice that it gets worse because of different external factors.
In addition to having you describe your tinnitus to them, the audiologist will likely put you through several hearing tests to get a better idea of whether or not sound therapy will help relieve your tinnitus symptoms. A pitch-match test helps them determine the approximate pitch that the tinnitus is occurring at and a loudness-match test to see how loud your tinnitus is. If you have not recently been tested for hearing loss, then you will likely get this test as well since tinnitus often comes with hearing loss.
Here are two common ways that you can get relief from tinnitus through sound therapy:
Tinnitus Hearing Aids
Some hearing aids come with tinnitus features that help to treat tinnitus through sound therapy whereas others are designed specifically for tinnitus. Your hearing aid specialist will help determine which one of these options is right for you. In most cases, if you have hearing loss in addition to tinnitus, you will need a hearing aid with tinnitus features, but if you don’t have hearing loss, then you will benefit from a tinnitus hearing aid.
These work by providing extra noise directly into your ears which can reduce the severity of your tinnitus. One of the biggest advantages of using tinnitus hearing aids for sound therapy is that they will always be with you and can provide constant relief from the tinnitus. They can also be easily adjusted to fit your needs and to different situations, so they can help even when your tinnitus fluctuates depending on the time of day or other external factors.
Tinnitus Suppression Devices
Another type of device that is worn in the ear like a hearing aid is a tinnitus suppression device, which is also known as a tinnitus masking device. This works in the same way as tinnitus hearing aids in that it produces a constant tone or another sound that helps to reduce or even eliminate the tinnitus. Like a tinnitus hearing aid, these are great because they deliver sound directly into your ear and stay with you all day so you never have to go without tinnitus relief.
Free-Standing Noise Machine
For some people, tinnitus only affects them enough to be a problem when they are in a quiet room. If this is your case, you may benefit from having a free-standing noise machine. These machines are small electronic devices that can be placed anywhere in your home and turned on to produce background noise while you’re facing worsening tinnitus. These machines typically have different settings that you can experiment until you find one that works for you.
If Sound Therapy Doesn’t Work for You
In most cases, choosing one of the above sound therapy options will help you treat your tinnitus. However, if sound therapy doesn’t work for you, be sure to ask your audiologist about treating underlying causes of tinnitus, changing medications that could cause tinnitus, or taking a medication that can treat tinnitus.