What are tinnitus maskers? How should you use them, and which should you use? In this guide we'll go through how to use these devices as a type of sound therapy.
Chris Ellis

Chris Ellis

Medically Reviewed by
CEO at AudioCardio
November 20, 2020

What Is A Tinnitus Masker?

Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears when there is no external noise source. It can sound like ringing, hissing, humming, buzzing, and clicking.

Tinnitus is a common, but incurable symptom for many people. It is often a symptom of an underlying condition such as age- or noise-related hearing loss or ear injury. It doesn’t always affect both ears, and there are many possible tinnitus causes.

Around 15-20% of people are affected by tinnitus to some capacity.

Tinnitus can become a chronic (long term) condition and last for years. It can also be situational, lasting for a few hours.

Although there is no cure, tinnitus maskers can be an effective tool to use to help you find relief. Many find them very effective in the management of tinnitus.

Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears when there is no external noise source
Tinnitus is the perception of noise in the ears when there is no external noise source

What is a Tinnitus Masking Device? 

Many people who have tinnitus may not be able to identify the exact cause of their tinnitus.

There are many tinnitus treatments available, which can often depend on the cause.

Maskers are a type of sound therapy for tinnitus, and could be an effective way to help alleviate your symptoms in the long term.

Traditionally known as "white noise machines", they generate low level noise to drown out or mask the internal sounds of tinnitus. The aim is that you'll have an easier time relaxing, focusing, and coping with the  ringing in your ears. This will overall help with the psychological, mental, and emotional effects of tinnitus.

If you want to see if a masker would be a good option for you, turn on your bathroom tap to full blast and see if the noise of the water drowns out your ringing.

If it does, a tinnitus masking device could be a great option.

Check out this video of masking noise that features a mix of rain, music, and ambient white noise.

One of the most common tinnitus maskers is white noise
One of the most common tinnitus maskers is the sound of white noise

Types of Tinnitus Maskers

There are different types of maskers.

It is recommended that you consult your doctor to determine the best plan for you. You can try out what noises best mask your tinnitus through trial and error.

Here are types we'll go through today:

  • Hearing Aids
  • Smartphone apps
  • Sound generators
  • Wearable sound generators

Hearing Aids For Tinnitus Masking

Many hearing aids have tinnitus masking capabilities built in.

If you have tinnitus and hearing loss, this could be a great long term option for you as you don’t have to buy separate devices.

Instead can enjoy an all-in-one solution.

A 2007 study published in The Hearing Review suggested that 60% of tinnitus patients experienced at least some relief while wearing hearing aids and about a third of them found significant relief.

6 Cutting Edge Bluetooth Hearing Aids

Hearing aids work well as tinnitus maskers
Hearing aids work well as tinnitus maskers

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Tinnitus Masker Apps

There are many useful tinnitus masker apps available for download on the Apple and Android Store.

This would be a good option for those who have a smartphone and want convenient access to sound therapy.

There are both free and paid options.

We've listed a few below:

  • Oto provides a comprehensive tinnitus solution using tinnitus CBT techniques; targeted mindfulness; an array of sounds and audio landscapes; sleep support; and guided exercises to stretch and relax the neck, back, jaw, and more.
  • T-Minus provides a comprehensive tinnitus sound therapy library. Users can choose, modify and combine sounds using a simple user interface to find a mask that works best for them.
  • Quieten was inspired and created by Julian Cowan Hill’s work as one of the most experienced tinnitus therapists in the UK. The app hopes to teach individuals how to calm the ringing in your ears from Julian, who was able to improve his symptoms after suffering from tinnitus first hand. 

8 of the Best Apps for Tinnitus

There are many apps used as a tinnitus masker
There are many apps that can be used as a tinnitus masker

Tabletop Sound Generators

These are devices that can be placed on bedside tables and other surfaces and generate ambient and white noise to help mask ringing.

These portable noise generators are often battery-powered or can be plugged into an electric socket.

Sleep timer options make it a good option for those who want to leave it on to fall asleep. They are readily available and can be purchased on Amazon.

Wearable Sound Generators

Wearable sound generators are similar to tabletop sound generators in function but they can be placed in the ear like a hearing aid.

They offer more subtle and constant white noise since they are in the ear and battery-powered.

This option can obstruct normal hearing ability like an ear bud and can cost around $250, but it’s a great option for those who want a masking device that can be easily integrated into their lifestyle.

Puretone has wearable sound generators for purchase on their site.  

Which Masker Should I Use?

As evidenced, there are several different types of maskers that suit different needs better than others.

If you have persistent ringing that bothers you, often a trial and error approach works best.

Find out what works best for you, but we've found that a combination of sound therapy and digital cognitive behavioural therapy is an option to consider in coping with tinnitus. 

This article was written by Chris Ellis, CEO of AudioCardio. AudioCardio is a technology company focused on hearing health and wellness.Learn more about AudioCardio at www.audiocardio.com or find it on the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.

Join Oto

The Oto app offers a comprehensive tinnitus solution all in the palm of your hand. Reduce tinnitus intrusion using the many resources the app offers:

  • A library of various sound categories such as urban, binaural, ASMR, 3D, sleep, nature, household, and coloured
  • CBT techniques
  • Sleep support including sleep stories, mindfulness for sleep, and sleep preparation
  • Meditation and breathing exercises
  • Guided exercises for stretching the neck, back, jaw, shoulders, and more

Check out Oto's Tinnitus Support Group, a supportive community for individuals with tinnitus or related conditions to receive regular tips and tricks from the expert team at Oto!

FAQs

What is a tinnitus masker?

A tinnitus masker is a device or method that uses sound to "mask" or cover up the internal sounds of tinnitus, helping individuals find relief from the ringing, hissing, or other noises they perceive.


How common is tinnitus?

Around 1 in 8 people, over 10% of people in the UK, are affected by tinnitus in some capacity.


What are the traditional tinnitus maskers known as?

Traditionally, tinnitus maskers were known as "white noise machines."


How do tinnitus maskers work?

Tinnitus maskers generate low-level noise to drown out or mask the internal sounds of tinnitus, aiming to help individuals relax, focus, and cope with the ringing in their ears.


What are the different types of tinnitus maskers available?

There are various types, including hearing aids with tinnitus masking capabilities, smartphone apps, tabletop sound generators, and wearable sound generators.


How effective are hearing aids for tinnitus masking?

Many hearing aids have built-in tinnitus masking capabilities. Studies have shown some tinnitus patients experience some levels of relief while wearing hearing aids.


Are there smartphone apps for tinnitus masking?

Yes, there are several apps available, such as Oto, T-Minus, and Quieten, which offer sound therapy and other resources for tinnitus management.


What are tabletop sound generators?

These are devices placed on surfaces like bedside tables that generate ambient and white noise to help mask tinnitus. They can be battery-powered or plugged into an electric socket.


How do wearable sound generators differ from tabletop ones?

Wearable sound generators are placed in the ear like a hearing aid and offer more subtle and constant white noise. They can obstruct normal hearing ability and are battery-powered.


How can individuals determine the best tinnitus masker for their needs?

It often requires a trial and error approach. Consulting a doctor or audiologist and trying out different noises and devices can help determine the most effective solution.

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Discover how to tune out tinnitus with our free webinar

Register for our 20 minute webinar and learn why you don't just have to live with tinnitus.
Thanks for signing up! Please check your inbox to access the course.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.