Dr. Cliff Olson, Audiologist and founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Anthem Arizona, discusses Tinnitus Sound Therapy and how it can help to get you Relief.
Ringing of the ears, otherwise known as tinnitus, affects approximately 15% of the World’s Population. According to the American Tinnitus Association, Tinnitus affects 50 million Americans with 20 million of them struggling with burdensome Chronic Tinnitus.
There are 2 main types of tinnitus:
1. Objective tinnitus – This type is rare and can be heard by individuals other than yourself with proper listening tools. It is often caused by the body’s circulatory system.
2. Subjective tinnitus – This is the type that most tinnitus sufferers have.
It is often associated with hearing loss, and can only be perceived by the person experiencing it.Research tells us that most individuals with tinnitus also have hearing loss. We also know that replacing sound that the brain is missing using hearing aids is one of the most effective forms of tinnitus treatment because it appears to shut down or limit the Tinnitus generation mechanism in the brain. There are a variety of different treatment options for Tinnitus, but Sound Therapy using masking sounds is one of the more common ones. Tinnitus masking is basically taking one sound and using it to “mask over” the sound of your tinnitus. Typically, a static white or pink noise is used to provide this masking effect.
However, when you use static noise, you are essentially trading one sound for another with the hopes that you will prefer the static sound over the sound of your tinnitus. This is where the hearing aid manufacturer Widex takes a different approach. Instead of exclusively using Tinnitus noise maskers, all of their hearing aids (except their CIC models) use Zen Fractal Tones.
Fractal Tones are musical in nature and music has been shown to reduce tinnitus annoyance. However, you can’t listen to the same music over and over because it will eventually lose its effectiveness which is called habituation. Fractal tones are not repeatable which prevents this habituation, and they are also dichotic which means that different music is played in each ear.
Widex has 5 different Zen Fractal Tones that all have a unique sound to them. The Zen tones – Aqua, Coral, Lavender, Green, & Sand – all have a different Pitch, Tempo, and Intensity combination. This allows you to pick which one works best for you. They also have Zen noise if you already know that static maskers are what work best for you. The best thing about the Widex Zen tones is that you can use them at the same time as your regular hearing aid programs. This means that you can receive the benefit of amplification for speech understanding and tinnitus reduction along with the benefit of using Zen Fractal Tones at the same time.
However, for MAXIMUM tinnitus relief, it is always recommended to combine Sound Therapy with a structured Tinnitus Treatment Program like Widex Zen Therapy. Widex Zen Therapy has been show to provide significant improvement in tinnitus symptoms to most users in as little as 2 months, with further improvements out to 6 months.
Widex Zen therapy consists of 4 elements:
1. Counseling – This is where your hearing care provider provides you with Tinnitus education and possibly implements Cognitive & Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
2. Amplification – This is the use of hearing aids to treat your hearing loss and reduce the contrast between your auditory environment and the tinnitus.
3. Fractal Tones – This is the use of the Zen Fractal Tones to relax you and provide acoustic stimulation.
4. Relaxation Strategies – Increased tinnitus annoyance is directly associated with stress levels. Developing stress coping strategies can help reduce your tinnitus annoyance.
Feel free to checkout the Widez Zen Tinnitus App for recommended strategies.It is important to understand that while there is no Cure for Tinnitus, It doesn’t meant that there is no treatment available to reduce your perception and to help you cope with your tinnitus. You just have to make sure you have the right tools in your toolbox and a hearing care professional who can help you implement them.