Tinnitus: Description and Prevalence
If you experience continuous or spontaneous ringing, noise, or other internal sound in your ears, you have tinnitus. You are not alone. One in 10 people have a similar problem and many people report that their level of tinnitus is disabling. Are you one of them?
Two Types of Tinnitus
There are two types of tinnitus, objective and subjective. Objective tinnitus is real acoustic noise that is generated in your head by a turbulence of congested blood flow, “loose” bones, or other physical phenomena that, in many cases, may be fixed. Of course, you would need to consult a doctor to achieve this. Objective tinnitus is rare and it is much more likely that you have subjective tinnitus. Subjective tinnitus in not a real acoustic sound; it is a phantom sound that is generated in your auditory system, which includes the brain.
What Can Be Done to Alleviate Tinnitus?
There are some working approaches that can reduce the problem, or even inhibit it for some time. Tinnitus masking is probably the most common one. Tinnitus masking consists of hearing an external sound that perceptually resembles the internal, phantom sound, but has a slightly louder volume so that the internal sound is not heard or, as we say, “it is masked by external stimuli”. Our brain knows how to ignore continuous external sounds and after getting used to them, the brain will ignore them – together with the actual tinnitus. This artificial external sound is called the “Tinnitus Masker” or, simply, “the Masker”. For some people, after hearing the Masker for certain amount of time and then switching it off, the tinnitus may be temporarily attenuated (weakened), or completely disappear. This phenomenon is called “residual inhibition” and it is experienced by 8 out of 10 people. The tinnitus will eventually come back, but the process of using the Masker may be repeated.
What is the Best Way to Create Tinnitus Masking?
The key to successful tinnitus masking and inhibition is the ability to define and play the real sound that matches, as closely as possible, the phantom sound of the tinnitus in pitch (frequency), sharpness, and volume. Traditionally, it requires visiting a professional and buying a tinnitus masker device, or hearing aids with tinnitus masking functionality. The professional will help you to find the right masking sound by asking questions and adjusting tones or noises you hear until you find the right one that masks your tinnitus with the minimal volume. This may be a lengthy and expensive procedure.
How is Alango – Wear & Hear Addressing the Scourge of Tinnitus?
Alango Technologies has developed an application called TinnMasker to make the process of matching your personal tinnitus as simple and intuitive as possible. It allows you to try the tinnitus masking approach without spending a lot of time and money. It may also help you where hearing aids cannot (due to the limited frequency range of hearing aids which cannot reproduce the high pitched sound of your tinnitus).
How Does TinnMasker Work?
Watch this video for an overview of the application:
How Can I Obtain the TinnMasker Tinnitus Masking Application?
At this stage TinnMasker is available as a Windows PC application only. Once we have enough feedback to improve and perfect it, we will integrate TinnMasker into our Wear & Hear line of personalized Bluetooth hearing amplifiers. In the meantime, you can already benefit from it:
- Download the TinnMasker app by clicking here. [Your browser will most likely warn you that the file is dangerous, because that is the standard response for downloads with the “exe” extension”, but you can ignore the warning — trust us! Choose to continue anyway…]
- The application includes a comprehensive help file (use F1 to access it when the app is running). You can also download the full TinnMasker User Guide in PDF format which contains step-by-step operating instructions.
- Connect your computer to a speaker, wired headphones, or a Bluetooth headset (if you want wireless mobility near your computer).
Note: In general, Bluetooth is limited to about 10 meters (~30 feet), but you can approximately triple this range with the HearLink PLUS long-range transmitter paired with one of the BeHear personalized hearing amplifiers.
TinnMasker is an experimental application that serves as a prototype for future development. We hope you will find it beneficial and join the effort to make it better. We eagerly await your feedback.
Once you have downloaded and installed the application, which can be run on a personal computer or smartphone*, it will be used to simulate the irritating sound heard in your ear(s)**. Using its graphic user interface you will locate the sound that best matches your tinnitus.
To locate your unique sound, you will manipulate three separate parameters:
- Frequency (pitch) – X axis
- Bandwidth (sharpness/fuzziness) – Y axis
- Volume – green sliders
* The current beta version is available for use on a Windows PC only.
** Tuning can be performed simultaneously or separately for each ear.
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