Ringing in the ears. Hissing. Buzzing. These are just a few of the symptoms of a disorder called tinnitus, which can be life changing for those that suffer from it.
Tinnitus is a condition where noise is present despite a lack of external stimulation and seems to be coming from inside the head or ear. While tinnitus can be considered a mere nuisance for some, for others it can cause severe anxiety, depression, concentration or sleep issues. Sometimes present with age-related hearing loss, tinnitus can also occur due to problems with the circulatory system, as a result of Meniere’s disease, exposure to loud noise or certain medications.
While tinnitus sometimes accompanies hearing loss, it can manifest itself in the absence of hearing loss as well. Sometimes tinnitus is only temporary, as a result of a one-time exposure to extremely loud noise, but many times it can be permanent and require treatment or therapy. In addition to the causes behind it, the symptoms of tinnitus also vary from person to person. Variations in sound level, type of noise, pitch, level of annoyance and frequency (i.e. temporal characteristics) make tinnitus particularly difficult to treat using one-dimensional therapy.
Although millions of people suffer from tinnitus, the effects on the individual are unique; what has been lacking thus far is customized treatment that can address the specific symptoms of each person. But now a revolutionary next generation sound generator from Oticon called SoundSupport is changing the game and offering new hope to those who are affected by tinnitus.
As the first sound generator to offer built-in ocean sounds, a large number of sound options and adjustment controls— making it highly customizable —SoundSupport differs from other tinnitus treatments and programs in that it offers multiple personalization options to account for an individual’s unique tinnitus symptoms, needs and preferences. Up until recently, the treatments for tinnitus were few and rudimentary. Even now, countertop systems, hearing aids, and CDs are limiting in terms of personalization and control for the individual user. Often they only offer a white noise option to mask the sound, and not much of anything else.
SoundSupport is different. Taking into account that different people react to sound in different ways, SoundSupport offers sound stimulation through a customizable selection of sound options. Users have the option of white, pink or red noise, depending on their preference. White noise, a flat frequency covering the entire sound spectrum, sounds like static; pink noise also covers the entire sound spectrum but emphasizes lower frequencies and is similar to heavy rainfall. Red noise, an even lower frequency, is similar to rushing water. The pink and red noises are able to reduce the bothersome high frequency content by up to six decibels (dB) per octave. In addition to the multiple broadband sounds, SoundSupport also offers three different ocean sounds, from soothing to dynamic. These ocean sounds are specially designed to mimic the sounds of crashing and receding waves on the shore, which are known to offer stress relief and relaxation.
The flexibility and customization of SoundSupport means users can choose up to four relief sounds suitable for a variety of listening environments. Ranging from quiet to loud, these listening environments could include anything from quiet conversation at home to traffic noise or loud rock concerts. Included in SoundSupport is a function called Automatic Level Steering, which modulates the tinnitus relief sound. The chosen SoundSupport relief sound, Ocean 3, for example, is automatically reduced when external sounds are loud enough by themselves to provide relief from tinnitus. When external sounds become quieter, the SoundSupport relief sound returns to its original level. That means the user can be hands free if he chooses and doesn’t have to manually adjust the device every time external sound levels vary.
SoundSupport also offers a modulation function, related to amplitude over time, which can be applied to any of the chosen broadband sounds, further taking into account the unique needs of the individual. Lastly, the separate volume control gives the user the ultimate control over the the volume of the relief sound at any given moment, allowing for maximum control, customization and comfort.
Adding yet another dimension to the SoundSupport customization is the Oticon Tinnitus Sound App, which is available for free in the iTunes App Store and allows users to find even more relief sounds that meet their needs. With this app, users can also add sounds from their personal music library. The app helps the patients play a more active role in managing their condition.
SoundSupport, like other tinnitus treatments, is meant to be used with other instructional programs. Be sure to ask your hearing healthcare professional about using Oticon’s SoundSupport in conjunction with counseling such as tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), Tinnitus Masking or Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM).