Tinnitus SA was established with support from the South Australian Government.
Most people find that they are more aware of their tinnitus when they are in a quiet place. For instance, the tinnitus can be particularly noticeable at night, when external sounds drop away, and can seem very intrusive when you wake in the quiet of the night. The contrast between the tinnitus and silence draws your attention to the tinnitus because it is the dominant ‘sound’ present. This is similar to the way in which our eyes are drawn to a candle burning in a dark room whereas we might not notice a candle flame in a well-lit room.
To reduce attention to the tinnitus sounds, it is recommended that people with tinnitus avoid silence. The aim is to reduce the contrast between the ambient environment and the tinnitus sounds. This can mean having the radio, TV or low music playing, or using sources of low level, neutral sound, e.g. fan noise, running water. The purpose is not to mask the tinnitus sounds but just to reduce the contrast between the quiet background and the tinnitus.
Some people find that they can successfully ‘mask’ the tinnitus with other noise, that is, cover up the tinnitus sounds so that they cannot hear them, similar to the way flowery or other scents can be used to cover up bad odors. Music or the TV might achieve this, or other continuous sounds such as the air conditioner. Using external noise to try and mask the tinnitus sound is not always effective, however, as some people may require quite high sound levels to achieve effective masking. Also, masking the tinnitus can delay habituation (tuning it out) because the attention system cannot learn to ignore a sound it cannot perceive.
Introducing low-level, neutral sound is preferable to masking and can help in several ways:
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
TRT uses a combination of wearable noise generators or hearing instruments, counselling, attention control techniques and relaxation to encourage habituation to tinnitus.
Neuromonics Acoustic Desensitisation Protocol
Uses a wearable sound device, programmed to your own hearing levels, to deliver neutral sound and music to each ear. This is combined with counselling.
Sound Therapy International
Sound Therapy is a portable self-help program that uses specially recorded analogue audio- tapes of highly filtered classical music to “rehabilitate the ear and recharge the brain”. Sound Therapy presents constantly alternating sounds of high and low tone which may be helpful in distracting the listener from their tinnitus.