Have you ever experienced a “ringing in your ears?” It’s quite annoying, isn’t it? There are some people who suffer from ringing, buzzing, and other noises in the ears. This is referred to as tinnitus, and we’re going to take a closer look at it in this article.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a noise that actually comes from the ear, instead of coming from inside the ear. Some people have tinnitus in both of their ears. Others only suffer from it in one of their ears. The sounds can be buzzes, rings, hums, or whistles. Therefore, there can many types of tinnitus that you may not be aware of.
– Pulsatile Tinnitus is a type of tinnitus where the noises are intermittent. Sometimes, they even pulse with the heartbeat (which is where the name came from).
– Tonal Tinnitus is the most common type of tinnitus, usually referred to as “ringing in the ears.” You will hear a continuous sound that repeats over and over again if you have this.
– A rare type of tinnitus sounds like beeping or musical notes.
– Another rare type involves multiple tinnitus noises occurring simultaneously.
– Objective tinnitus, an unusual type, is where the noise is heard by both the affected person and those around them.
How Can Tinnitus Masking Help My Problem?
Tinnitus maskers are small devices that look like hearing aids and “mask” the tinnitus sounds. Masking is using other sounds, usually soothing sounds as to not cause stress to the patient, in order to drown out or mask the noises associated with the tinnitus.
The characteristics of your tinnitus will determine the types of sounds that the audiologist will use in order to bring you relief. In some cases, the tinnitus is in conjunction with hearing loss, so the device may have a dual purpose.
Essentially, the masker is meant to help you have less stress and irritation. The noises in your head can be very stress-inducing. Therefore, tinnitus masking can help you to feel better emotionally, physically, and socially. Like all treatments, tinnitus masking helps some people and doesn’t help for others.
Keep reading to find out how an audiologist determines whether or not tinnitus masking can help you with your situation.
Will Tinnitus Masking Work For Me?
Audiologists perform a particular test to help determine whether or not tinnitus masking will be an effective treatment for your tinnitus. As you will see, this test is incredibly simple, but will say a lot because of what it does.
The test that many audiologists use is called the faucet test.
The person suffering from tinnitus stands near a sink and turns it on to its highest position. It sounds silly, but it actually tells the audiologist a lot. Many times, those with tinnitus will notice that they can’t hear it when they are in the shower or doing dishes, because the water’s noise is “drowning it out.” If the water sound masks the tinnitus, then the audiologist knows that tinnitus masking may work for that patient.
The faucet test isn’t the end of it all. Even if the person can still hear their tinnitus, it may be because of another issue like hearing loss. 90 percent of people with tinnitus have hearing loss. Many times, it’s just high frequency hearing loss, which means that the water noise may not effectively cover it. Instead, your audiologist may just need to find a high-frequency sound to use for tinnitus masking.
Many times, if the faucet doesn’t help, the audiologist will try a number of other noises in order to help you find relief. In other cases, the faucet may not help you unless you have a hearing aid (which is related to the whole hearing loss mentioned above).
Clinical studies show that some people can only “pass” the faucet test while wearing hearing aids. Tinnitus masking is a fairly effective treatment, so audiologists will try that before trying other techniques and therapies.
But, in some cases, nothing can be done. Some people who fail the faucet test simply cannot utilize tinnitus masking for one reason or another. This is not incredibly common (it’s estimated that 10% to 20% of people with tinnitus don’t find relief from tinnitus masking), but it does happen.
Some people simply cannot use tinnitus masking for relief, no matter what type of tinnitus masking is used or the intensity of the masking. If the person has a more complex type of tinnitus, they may only find relief from some of the noises but not all of them.
If you are suffering from tinnitus, then you should make an appointment with your physician and/or an audiologist. They can help you to be more comfortable and possibly help you with tinnitus masking that can make your quality of life much better. Make that call today; your ears will thank you.
Last Updated 15 Sep 2013
1. British Tinnitus Association (Accessed 15 Sep 2013)
2. E Health MD (Accessed 15 Sep 2013)