Could “white noise” be used, at least partially, to counteract the ringing caused by tinnitus? I am envisioning a pocket noise generator and earbud.
There are white noise apps for phones and tablets, so…maybe?
What’s the cause of your tinnitus? If it’s due to overall hearing loss due to presbycusis (old ears), masking (devices delivering white noise to the ears) haven’t been shown to be terribly helpful, though some folks seem to benefit a bit.
Current summary of masking effectiveness from UpToDate:
"Masking devices resemble hearing aids and are designed to produce low-level sounds that reduce the perception of tinnitus. Some patients report decrease in tinnitus with use of such devices, although there is no conclusive evidence from randomized trials to clarify the evidence of effectiveness. One systematic review of six randomized trials found significant risk of bias and differences in outcome measures and evaluation techniques that precluded a definitive assessment of efficacy.
Masking can also produce the phenomenon of residual inhibition, where the reduction or elimination of tinnitus perception continues for a short time after the masker is removed. One therapy under evaluation, phase-shift treatment, aims to enhance residual inhibition that results from masking. Similar to the concept used in sound cancellation headphones, phase shift therapy uses a sound wave that is phase-shifted 180 degrees from the patient’s endogenous sound wave. Residual inhibition lasting one hour to seven days was reported in 42 percent of patients during active phase-shift treatment for two weeks, and in no patients during nontreatment control weeks, in a crossover study (n = 61). Further studies are needed to evaluate the long-term benefits of phase-shift treatment prior to clinical use.
Potential adverse effects of masking therapy include worsening of tinnitus, associated discomfort, or worsening hyperacusis.
For patients with tinnitus related to hearing loss, the use of an appropriately fitted hearing aid may act to mask the tinnitus. As with other masking strategies, the tinnitus tends to return some time after the hearing aid is removed. In a randomized trial comparing hearing aid use with a sound generator for tinnitus associated with hearing loss, both interventions had comparable benefits.
Masking may also be accomplished using or enhancing ambient background noise. Use of background music, sound machines, radios on low volume, fans, and pillow speakers have been helpful to patients with tinnitus that is especially bothersome in quiet environments."
Their overall summary of tinnitus treatment:
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
●The goal of treatment, for most patients, is to lessen awareness of tinnitus and its impact on quality of life.
●Treatment for tinnitus should be aimed at the underlying abnormality, when identified. We recommend treatment of underlying depression and insomnia, as these conditions may exacerbate symptoms of tinnitus.
●We recommend tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), in the context of directive counseling, for patients who are significantly impacted by their tinnitus symptoms. We suggest a trial of biofeedback or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which may also be helpful as an adjunct to TRT
●Medications for tinnitus have limited effectiveness.
●Other medical treatments, including acupuncture and electrical stimulation (except for patients with profound hearing loss), are not demonstrably more effective than placebo.
As always, I recommend you discuss your particular situation with your audiologist/ENT specialist
I had a bit of tinnitus before anesthesia and chemo, and now have constant high-pitched tinnitus without hearing loss in both ears. I am in a constant white noise environment all night (HEPA filter in the bedroom). It makes no difference. The only thing that helps at all is carefully focusing on the tone, which sometimes leads to a minute or so of reduction or elimination. I’ve been meaning to try a tuning fork, but it’s not always the same pitch and sometimes the ears have different pitches. I’d be willing to try biofeedback. As a cognitive therapist, I can say that those treatments I’ve seen tend toward one’s decreasing fretful preoccupation rather than reducing the tinnitus.
White noise doesn’t help me (constant tinnitus, both ears, no hearing loss [like susan]). Having the TV or radio on can help as a distraction — I definitely notice the ringing more when the room is quiet — but for whatever reason white noise doesn’t have the same effect/makes no difference.
I’m very glad that I have no hearing loss, and very grateful that it doesn’t affect my ability to sing on pitch or harmonize, but it’s kinda weird to know that there’s no such thing as complete silence for me anymore.
As with so many physiological things, I think the answer to the OP is going to be “it depends.”
As I’m typing this my ears are ringing, and the fan a few feet away is making no difference. I’ve had tinnitus as long as I can remember. If I’m busy doing something I usually don’t notice it, but it’s pretty much always there. I can hear fine, and since I’ve had it for fifty something years and it hasn’t gotten worse I can live with it.
No hearing loss, constant ringing in left ear only, pulses with heart beat.
My tinnitus pulses with my heart beat as well. Does your doctor know about this? There is a serious condition that can cause this that should be ruled out.
BTW, I can greatly increase the volume of my tinnitus by jutting my jaw out. I can almost make it scream it’s so loud. And I can reduce the volume by stretching the skin in front of my ears. There is definitely an anatomical component to my tinnitus.
Since this question is asking for medical advice, I’ve moved it to IMHO.
Taking aspirin can make it worse, other NSAIDs somewhat less,
This, or just hearing loss in general- is gonna be a big health issue, what with Bikers and their “loud pipes” and especially earbuds turned too high.
I have nerve damage hearing loss in my left ear, no (or otherwise unnoticeable) tinnitus during everyday life, but I can make it happen if I think about it hard enough. I can concentrate and increase the volume, but I have no control of the pitch. Mostly in the left ear, although the right ear sometimes joins the chat.
I don’t know if hearing aids can help with nerve damage hearing loss. Whispers and telephone earpieces are useless in that ear, but music with headphones is ok but obviously compromised.
I have quite literally had it for longer than I can remember. When I was 4 we had hearing tests, you know the ones where they play different tones, and it was that day I learned that other people didn’t hear ringing in their ears all of the time; it had already been going on so long I couldn’t remember a before.
Like most children with tinnitus I’d suffered from ear infections chronically since babyhood, and unlike anyone who is less than 40, I was given a lot of tetracycline, which discolored my permenant teeth and the jury’s still out if it or the ear infections caused it in us.
White noise doesn’t help me much either.
I’ve just started having it (right ear only) in the last month. It’s not very loud, and I only notice it when it’s relatively quiet or I’m thinking about it. Most of the time I’m not aware of it.
I have no apparent hearing loss, but I’m seeing an ENT in a few weeks for the vertigo I’ve been having on and off for the last three months, and they’ll check my hearing, too.
Naturally, I’m wondering if the tinnitus is related to the vertigo, and hoping they’re not a sign of something more serious. (Fortunately, so far I don’t have any other symptoms of Ménière’s disease.)
I’ve had tinnitus for 17 years now. With noise-induced hearing loss. Both are not debilitating but are inconvenient. And are becoming more so as the years & mileage accumulate.
My hearing aids include a white noise feature. Which for me at least materially reduces my perception of the high-pitched whine in my head.
I had a hearing appointment with both an audiologist and an ear/nose/throat MD several years ago due to some loss of high-pitch hearing as well as tinnitus. The appointment was at the hospital where my wife works, not what I think of as a commercial storefront hearing aid pusher. I mentioned to them that my tinnitus noticeably diminishes if I press hard on the mastoid bone behind my left ear and gets louder if I press hard on my forehead above my right eyebrow. They looked at me like I was nuts. They were fair with me in discussing that the high cost of hearing aids outweighs what they thought of as relatively minimal hearing loss, and I might wait and see if my hearing gets worse before throwing money at the problem. However, they wouldn’t address the possibility that some physiological or neurological issue might be causing my tinnitus. I don’t know how to find someone who would take me seriously and accept that I am describing something real.
I’ve had it for ~15 years. Multiple and changing frequencies in both ears. $$$$ hearing aids help, since the tinnitus covers up multiple frequencies, and I can increase the volume across the board.
Most meeting/class room type settings are very difficult. As is a restaurant with so much background noise. My audiologist says the hearing aids are all that can be done. I see plenty of snake oil on line though.
I really wish something could be done. Shit, I had my HIP replaced and it was out-patient surgery. That blew me away. Cataracts? No problem, surgery took maybe 20 minutes.
I’m lucky that the constant noise doesn’t bother me that much. Except for not being able to hear others.
This is the key for me. I have constant, loud white noise.
For a long time, I was angry and felt sorry for myself. But that changed when I decided to make peace with it.
It actually started with an Emmylou Harris song*:…
I’ve come to listen for the sound
of the trucks as they move down
out on ninety-five,
and pretending it’s the ocean…
Hey, maybe instead of fighting this noise, what if I relax and accept it, maybe even enjoy it, like Emmylou’s highway noises becoming ocean waves…
So, after a lot of work, my ADD and my selective memory and my tinnitus are starting to be my friends.
I’m in the process of getting hearing aids. If my tinnitus went away tomorrow I wouldn’t need them. I hope they help.
*Boulder to Birmingham:
I’ve had it for over 30 years, but no significant hearing loss. If I put my fist under my jaw and have the jaw push down, it gets much louder. I just tried the skin thing for the first time, it makes it a little louder too. I’ve never found anything that alleviates it aside from being distracted by something else.
Gee, I never heard of this, but when I try it, I can too!
I’ve had tinnitus as long as I can remember, and I had terrible earaches as a small child. Years later doctors told me I would have benefitted greatly from ear tube surgery if it had been available then. I wonder if there’s a connection. Don’t know what antibiotics (or other meds) they might have used. This would probably have been 1957 to 1965.
THis describes mine as well, but mine isn’t constant. It comes and goes. Sometimes I hear no noise, sometimes I have tinnitus but luckily its just a minor annoyance.
But like you, I can feel it pulse with my heartbeat, and sticking my lower jaw out makes it louder.
EDIT: I did find this. If moving your jaw changes your tinnitus, you may have TMJ.
Studies have shown that tinnitus is more likely to be related to TMJ if it changes when you move your jaw. If you are experiencing TMJ, try modulating it by moving your jaw. Common changes are changes in pitch or volume.
There are many potential links between TMJ and tinnitus. It could be related to jaw muscles that also attach to your ear. The jaw could be putting pressure on nerves that carry signals from the ear to the brain. It could be related to pressure on the temporal bone, which houses the inner ear. But in all these cases, moving the jaw affects the configuration and therefore can alter tinnitus.