Benefits of Sound Enrichment
Attached is an excerpt of practical tips that we provided to one of Noise Relief’s readers regarding Tinnitus Treatment Options. Given the volume of emails that we receive we apologize if we cannot respond to all questions.
Thanks for letting us use your letter.
There are no hard and fast rules. Here is what has worked for the folks that we have worked with:
• The golden rule is that during your downtime there should almost always be a background sound that does not trigger an emotional response. Broad band digital White noise or certain white noise substitutes (Noise Relief White Noise, Babbling Brook, Waves or Wind MP3s) work the best.
• Over time playing white noise makes the Tinnitus less noticeable. Ensure that you have read the EarAces link on the www.noiserelief.com home page and ensure you understand the concepts that are discussed. Often the initial perception of Tinnitus is the result of subconscious filters whereby the brain perceives the initial sound as a threat and a “predator response” is triggered. Often Tinnitus is first perceived when someone is under severe physical or emotional stress, while the “fight or flight” or “predator response” increases the “Gain” and the amplification of the brains auditory system. The key is to reduce stress levels and negative emotions associated with the sound so that the brain is “rewired over time” through auditory habituation.
• Playing Noise Relief Digital white noise for 2 to 3 hours in the evenings before bedtime is common. It is played at a level just below the mixing point of the Tinnitus sound. Over the period of weeks or months normally the sound level of Tinnitus will decrease and then the white noise may be played at corresponding lower levels. Always check the volume of your MP3 Player before wearing your headphones.
• Eventually, when the Tinnitus sound is barely audible you will not need the White Noise MP3 very often. In fact you may only need it when your stress levels increase.
• As Tinnitus tends to increase with stress levels you should do what you can to reduce stress levels (every 2 days consider physical workouts, long hot showers and hot baths with the water left running).
• To elaborate on the golden rule and having a background white noise at pretty much all times and you need to be creative. Wherever possible (ie the babbling brook, raging river or the Sleep Sound Machine available from the NR store) have the sounds on all the time so you simply do not need to think about it.
• In the kitchen you can leave your kitchen fan running to provide a white noise sound.
• In the living room you could add a water fountain (see the Noise Relief Store) or play the Noise Relief Babbling Brook or White Noise CD.
• While driving play a Noise Relief White Noise or Noise Relief Babbling Brook CD or try leaving your window slightly open.
• While working at the computer use your IPOD and play Noise Relief white noise or Babbling Brook. Alternately, play the Noise Relief white noise or Babbling Brook CD on your computer or the White Noise Machine.
• After work you may become absorbed in a TV program or reading that you hardly notice the white noise sound. If it falls back into perception, just try to ignore it. If the sound doesn’t have meaning eventually you won’t even notice Tinnitus or Ringing Ears unless you try to listen for it. The bottom line is Tinnitus may be there for a period of time, but a) either you will not or hardly notice it or b) even if you do notice it will eventually become like an old friend and not bothersome. The point behind playing the white noise MP3s is to get you to a) or b). Because the white noise is used to partially mask Tinnitus it makes it less noticeable facilitating auditory habituation.
• At night if you are sleeping fine then use the Sleep Sound White Noise Machine (see the link from the www.noiserelief.com store) first played at the lower volume setting. If you are not sleeping through the night then play the fan at the higher volume setting and / or move it closer to where you are sleeping. If this does not work then play white noise on your MP3 player using lose fitting over the ear headphones all night. Many of our readers have found that these steps have allowed them to sleep as well or better than before their Tinnitus began.
• Stay busy and try to focus on work, reading, TV or problem solving.
• The level of Tinnitus is affected by your state of mind. If you feel relaxed and not threatened (eg. No fight or flight response) the volume level will decrease. Try various relaxation strategies such as deep breathing exercises and sound enrichment.
• Finally, if you have not noticed an improvement over several weeks contact your physician/audiologist. If the condition continues for more than 6-8 months and / or significantly is affecting your day to day life you consider undertaking a formal Tinnitus Retraining Therapy regime. There are links to various sites and organizations on the www.noiserelief.com home page.
• Always consult with your physician before trying any new Tinnitus Treatment.
Subject: Re: Questions
Dear folks at Info@NoiseRelief,
Thank you for the response to my questions. Please feel free to quote from any part of my letter that you wish.
One more question, if I may: once I've downloaded the Noise MP3, any suggestions as to the length of time, or times, that I should be listening to the noise? Does more time equal better, faster results? For example, what about while sleeping? Could I use it then too? And, finally, what about volume? I know from TRT literature (Jasterboff, Hazell) that the white noise should not entirely mask or drown out the tinnitus. The tinnitus should always be perceptible -- in order for habituation to be possible. But are you able to give me some idea as to how much softer (compared to the tinnitus) the white noise should be? And should one progressively lower the volume of the white noise? Your answer to these questions would be most appreciated.