Hi guys. Rachael Cook, Doctor of Audiology and provider at Applied Hearing Solutions in Phoenix, Arizona. And in this video I'm going to teach you how to pick the best sound therapy treatment for your tinnitus coming up.
If you have tinnitus, you know that quiet environments can make it seem that much more noticeable. A quick Google search on how to eliminate your tinnitus may result in ads for quick fix maneuvers and gimmicky supplements. These miracle fixes oftentimes seem too good to be true, and that's because they always are. But one evidence-based strategy to decrease the perception of your tinnitus that continues to prove itself is the use of sound therapy. Sound therapy is when you use a variety of sounds to make your tinnitus less noticeable. And while the concept seems simple enough, knowing just where to start with sound therapy can be a bit overwhelming. That's why in this video I'll be showing you how to pick the best tinnitus sound therapy for you. But before I do, it would be a huge help if you could hit that like button to bring videos like these to a wider audience.
And if you haven't already, make sure to hit the subscribe button so you never miss any one of our newly released videos. I really appreciate it. Now, I'd like to start this video with a disclaimer that although tinnitus has many causes that are not associated with the ears, there is a significant association between tinnitus and hearing loss. For that reason, you should seek a comprehensive audiological evaluation if you have tinnitus that develops rapidly, is worse in one ear, has a sudden change in loudness, pulses with your heartbeat, or is accompanied by vertigo with or without a diagnosed hearing loss. Many people with tinnitus see relief from the use of sound therapy. Sound therapy is the use of any sound to help decrease the perception of your tinnitus. This includes the use of amplification of ambient sounds, white noise, music, audiobooks, nature sounds, and more.
Sound therapy is primarily used in quiet environments where your brain may not be receiving very much input from your ears. This can lead to a noticeable increase in your tinnitus level, which can lead to feelings of stress, frustration, and distraction. Sound therapy works by stimulating your auditory system with the use of external sounds, essentially keeping it busy with sounds other than your tinnitus, because tinnitus is extremely common, occurring in 10 to 15% of US residents. I'm often asked in the clinic, what is the best tinnitus sound therapy for me? Because every person has a different pitch and level to their tinnitus, it's nearly impossible to recommend a one size fits all solution. Not only that, tinnitus is impacted by several different lifestyle factors like sleep, stress, and diet. So to eliminate it entirely would be pretty difficult. However, learning more about the basis of effective sound therapy can help you to develop more successful tinnitus management strategies.
The first factor in picking the best tinnitus sound therapy for you is determining what type of sound to use. All sounds fall into one of the three sound therapy groups: interesting sounds, background sounds and relaxing sounds. Interesting sounds include frequent changes in pitch and volume. They tend to be less predictable and repetitive and often include dialogue. These sounds grab your attention, which helps to decrease the focus on your tinnitus. Background sounds are neutral, steady state sounds like a fan running or white noise. These sounds help to reduce the amount of contrast between a quiet room and the sound of your tinnitus, helping decrease your attention to your tinnitus. Relaxing sounds are things like ocean waves, rainfall, and spa music. These sounds are ones that should make you feel a decrease in stress and tension as soon as you start listening to them. And as you probably picked up on, many of these sounds fall into two categories at once.
For example, a small tabletop fountain may serve as a background sound, reducing the amount of contrast between the quiet room and the perception of your tinnitus, while the running water also serves as a relaxing sound for many people, which type of sound you plan to use will also depend on when you plan to use it. For activities that require attention, like reading and working, you may choose to use background sounds or relaxing sounds rather than interesting sounds that could pull your focus away if you're completing an activity that doesn't require much focus, like getting ready for work or school in the morning. Interesting sounds like music or news podcasts can also capture your attention while providing entertainment for activities where you'd like to relax or fall asleep. Background sounds and relaxing sounds are your best bet, but again, this is very personal because what one person finds relaxing can be entirely annoying to another.
Once you have determined what type of sound to use and when to use it, the third factor is determining the appropriate volume level for the sound. Many people mistakenly assume that sound therapy should cover up the sound of their tinnitus entirely, and while this may provide temporary relief, eventually turning the sound source off can actually make your tinnitus more noticeable due to the contrast between sound and silence. For this reason, sound therapy should always be played at a level that matches the level of your tinnitus or even fall slightly below. This volume is called the blending volume, and it allows for some back and forth competition between your tinnitus and the sound therapy source. This competition of which sound is louder can actually help train your brain over time to pay less attention to your tinnitus. Because tinnitus can often change in loudness level due to stress, lack of sleep, and different medications along with the use of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine,
you may find that the blending volume for you can also change day to day. Incredibly, the impacts of sound therapy on the brain happen regardless of if you are awake or asleep. So I highly recommend developing your sleep sound therapy plan first. Not only does this allow you to start reaping the benefits of tinnitus sound therapy every single night while you sleep, but improved sleep also reduces stress of the body and the mind, which just brings the perception of your tinnitus down even further. And once you develop your sleep sound therapy plan, you'll feel much more confident in building sound therapy plans for all types of situations. The fourth and final step of developing an effective sound therapy plan is to figure out the best way to play the sound. Depending on your environment, some sounds are best played through tabletop and bedside speakers, but in other settings, the sound is best delivered to your ears only.
And this can be achieved through the use of headphones, earbuds, and many hearing aids. If you're wanting to trial different types of sound therapy, I highly recommend downloading a sound generator app such as the Starkey Relax app. You can also use things that you likely already have around your home, such as the TV fans or air purifiers, and if you have a hearing loss, just the use of hearing aids to amplify the ambient sounds that you can't hear due to the hearing loss can actually dramatically reduce the perception of tinnitus in six out of 10 hearing aid users without even using any sort of sound therapy. This is why it is so important that you treat your hearing loss if you have hearing loss and tinnitus together. And while determining what sound therapy works best for you isn't always easy, the process often provides a sense of control over your tinnitus.
That is more than worth the effort. Finding a few sound therapy strategies that work can help alleviate feelings of stress and anxiety around your tinnitus. And this can help you sleep, relax a bit or finish up some work projects. That's it for this video. If you liked it, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and share it with someone that you think could use it. And if you'd like to learn more about tinnitus management strategies, I highly recommend the Progressive Tinnitus Management Protocol established by Veteran's Affairs. The entire self-led workbook titled How to Manage Your Tinnitus is available for free via PDF download in the link in the description below. And if you haven't already, be sure to subscribe so that you never miss any of my upcoming videos on other tinnitus management strategies.
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