Although the ringing, humming, buzzing, whistling or clicking sound identified as tinnitus originates inside the ear, it can often be effectively treated with external sources of sound stimulation. This type of treatment, broadly referred to as sound therapy, uses four basic principles (masking, distraction, habituation and neuromodulation), but the specific methods and products hearing health care professionals use can vary. If your tinnitus doesn’t have a treatable medical basis, one of the following sound therapy devices may be able to help.

Hearing aids

Believe it or not, hearing aids are a type of sound therapy since they amplify external sounds that can eliminate or mask your mind’s perception of tinnitus. If hearing loss is the main source of your tinnitus, getting fitted with the right hearing aids from an audiologist will be the first and most effective sound treatment option.

Masking devices

Anything you find relaxing and pleasant can function as a masking device to distract or drown out the perception of tinnitus, ranging from a personal music player, computer, T.V.,] or fan, to a dedicated tabletop device that creates ambient noise, white noise or nature sounds. These are the least expensive types of sound therapy, but their effects are usually as short-lived as their use.

Modified sound devices

Medical-grade modified sound devices can provide longer-lasting benefits, even after use. By emphasizing certain frequencies and tones in music based on your unique tinnitus symptoms, they either help you adapt to it or train your brain to stop perceiving it. These devices utilize four different strategies:

  • Neuromonics, which gradually removes lower frequencies so patients adapt to their tinnitus
  • Otoharmonics, which mimics the patient’s tinnitus perception while they’re sleeping (another adaptation method)
  • SoundCure, designed to gradually eliminate tinnitus perception
  • Acoustic CR neuromodulation, which presents long-term, low-volume sounds that stimulate positive rather than hyperactive brain activity

Sound therapy combinations

Some devices combine a few of these strategies. For instance, some hearing aids treat hearing loss while producing internal stimulation that masks tinnitus symptoms. These are by far the most portable devices, and, along with their dual-function, this advantage enables them to provide sustained tinnitus relief.

If you’ve been struggling with tinnitus symptoms, schedule an appointment with an audiologist for a full hearing evaluation. Their tests and analysis of your individual symptoms can help determine if one these sound therapy devices may be the right answer for you.