Tinnitus Masker

This page was updated on Tuesday 19th of September 2017

Tinnitus MaskerThere are several options available for lessening the symptoms of tinnitus, one of which is the tinnitus masker.

What Is A Masker?
Maskers are electrical devices used to add artificial or natural sounds into the environment, suppressing or masking the noises heard by the tinnitus sufferer. The sounds are usually adjusted by an audiologist and should ideally match the tinnitus sounds both in pitch and in volume.

Based on white noise machines, (i.e., earphones similar to those used for iPods and mp3 players) most masker designs make them simple to use during sleep or while going about one’s daily activities.

It should be noted that tinnitus maskers can provide immediate relief for some sufferers but may only afford temporary relief for others.

How does the masker work?
It can best be explained by using two lights in a room (a table lamp and an overhead light) as an analogy.
If the table lamp is repeatedly turned on and off while at the same time the overhead light is switched off, you will eventually become annoyed with the repeated lights on, lights off activity due to the room’s darkness.
However, when the overhead light is turned on and left on, you are less likely to be annoyed by the constant turning on and off of the table lamp because the room is now flooded with light.  This is comparable to the way a masker works.

With the increase of the sound level in the environment as provided by the masker, the ringing, buzzing and whistling in the ears is less likely to be noticed.  The individual is provided with a less intrusive yet more calming sound coming from the masker, thus making it possible to drown out the tinnitus sounds.

4 Types of Maskers:

Pillow speakers
There are several different types available that can go either under, alongside or on top of your pillow. Portable models are available for travelling.

Table-top sound conditioners
These are free-standing devices such as radios, mp3‘s, water fountains, etc. which help to drown or mask the tinnitus sounds.

Hearing aids
Conventional hearing aids can be obtained through your doctor or hearing specialist and can help to mask tinnitus by not plugging the ear canal and consequently not interfering with the transfer of external sounds.

Specific masking machines
These are machines that contain tinnitus-specific sounds and music, usually downloadable, and are specifically designed to mask the sounds of tinnitus.  They can provide natural sounds such as gentle rainfall and ocean surf, as well as synthetic sounds known as white noise and pink noise.  The ears become less sensitive to the tinnitus noise while at the same time they become more receptive to the sounds from the masker.

To achieve the best results from a tinnitus masker you are urged to consult with your doctor or hearing specialist.

Useful Resources:

BTA Hearing Aids for Tinnitus:   http://www.tinnitus.org.uk/can-hearing-aids-help-people-with-tinnitus

NCBI, U.S. National Library of Medicine:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22609540

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