The introduction of devices for tinnitus sound therapy (enrichment) was first done on the principle of distraction. In 1903, Spaulding (physician) utilized a piano to match tinnitus frequency in his patients. He played the frequency until his patients could not hear it.
In 1993, McKinney and Jastreboff initiated the ‘habituation of the disordered auditor system’ theory with the use of low-level sounds, also known as sound enrichment to control an individual’s tinnitus. It is still a section of tinnitus management strategies. It is usually combined with definite comprehension and learning about tinnitus and the control of the emotional response and stress connected to it.
People with tinnitus mainly note that it is more evident and irritating in a quiet surrounding, for instance at night. Using any sound deliberately to decrease tinnitus awareness or lower the stress linked to it can be categorized as sound enrichment, which is mainly used to treat tinnitus or hyperacusis (excess sensitivity to sounds).
How Sound Therapy Works
Some individuals believe that sound enrichment or tinnitus sound therapy leads to actual physiological alterations in the brain’s hearing sections. Others think it works as a psychological diversion or a relaxation aid. It might be a blend of these two. But, it is clear that many tinnitus sufferers use one form of it.
Sound enrichment is utilized as a self-help method or a component of a more prominent tinnitus management program provided using the support of a clinic or hospital. Using sound therapy is a practical and straightforward procedure you can do on your own. It is not necessary for you to seek professional assistance.
Kinds of Sound Enrichment or Tinnitus Sound Therapy
Sources of sound enrichment are:
- Environmental sound (e.g., leaving a window open).
- MP3 download, radio or CD.
- A smartphone App.
- Table-top/bedside sound generators.
- A sound generator that you can wear.
The last four submit natural sounds, gentle music or ‘white noise.’ Hearing aids are available as well with additional sounds and tones provided with the amplification. In some areas, they are accessible on the NHS.
Your situation and references determine the appropriate tinnitus sound therapy for you. A lot of individuals work best with a sound that does not need too much focus and is nice to listen to.
A lot of individuals discover that some background noises, for instance, distant traffic, wind produced by trees, breaking waves on the seashore and the bustle of a busy office reduces the noticeability of tinnitus. Sometimes, merely opening a window might give you all the sound enrichment you require. Other options are a ticking clock or a fan in the bedroom.
Downloads and CDs
Various CDs can be obtained from numerous sources. They provide soothing music and nature sounds. You can also download a large variety of nature sounds from different websites and play them on mobile phones, portable devices, and mp3 players. Most of them are free.
Table-top/Bedside Sound Generators
These portable machines are placed on the table-top/bedside and offer a range of relaxing sounds at the press of a button. You can change the volume according to your needs. They have a timer as well, and you can switch it off when going to sleep. Many can be operated from either the battery power or mains.
When you listen to a beautiful, relaxing sound at night, it can help you if you experience difficulty in sleeping. If set it at a low volume throughout the night, sound enrichment offers a relaxing diversion from tinnitus also, if you wake up early, when your environs are quiet or if your tinnitus is notable early in the morning.
You can plug some sound generators and the majority of mp3 players and CD players into a sound pillow or a pillow speaker. It lowers the audibility of sound to partners. But, a lot of individuals also derive pleasure from listening to relaxing sounds at night!
Wearable Sound Generators
Wearable sound generators are referred to as white noise generators. Initially, they were called maskers. Wearable sound generators generate a continuous white noise that is a calm rushing noise, the same as a radio that is tuned static or off-station.
Wearable sound generations present an elective section of tinnitus therapy. At all times, they should be fixed by a tinnitus specialist as a section of a management programme for tinnitus.
They resemble small hearing aids, and you can wear them behind the ear or in the ear. The sound generators worn behind the ear are mainly preferred since they do not cause blockage to the ear. It is crucial for you to avoid getting the feeling that the sound generator blocks your hearing.
If you suffer from hearing loss, even one that is mild and you have difficulty in hearing, hearing aids will possibly assist you. They offer a kind of sound enrichment by providing you with more straightforward access to day-to-day environmental sound.
Many individuals hear their tinnitus less after switching on their hearing aids. You can use hearing aids together with tinnitus sound therapy obtained from audio docking stations, CDs or table-top/bedside sound generators.
Using Sound Enrichment
The objective of the cure for tinnitus is to allow individuals to habituate to their tinnitus, therefore ‘filtering it out’ mostly by the brain, although it might still be there. Habituation is possibly best attained if you utilize sound enrichment at a rate that is a bit quieter compared to your tinnitus much of the time. Some individuals use masking (a loud sound that overwhelms the tinnitus) to provide some relief to themselves.
Will I always use sound enrichment?
Sound enrichment is helpful to most people when they experience intrusive tinnitus. However, when they habituate to their tinnitus, its usefulness decreases. Individuals who utilize wearable sound generators usually use them just until when they believe they can control their tinnitus better. Bedside sound generators might not be necessary anymore after an improved sleeping pattern is implemented.
How do I access Sound Enrichment?
A lot of methods exist that you can use to get products that offer sound enrichment. As you search, be creative to get something that you feel relaxed and comfortable with. Explore free or more affordable options first. Your ENT or Audiology clinic can provide sound generators as a section of an individualized tinnitus programme.