Welcome back to the 4th edition of the Oto Guide 2020. So far we have covered the causes, treatments and NHS pathways for tinnitus. Today I’m going to take you through some of the best apps for tinnitus self-help, looking at tinnitus specific apps and other apps that can help you cope.
Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are treatments available to help us manage such as CBT or mindfulness therapy. You can read more about these in our previous blog post on tinnitus treatments. There are many apps available for tinnitus and deciding which of these to use can be difficult. Each offers a slightly different experience and features - which do you choose?
Here I’m going to go through some of the best apps for tinnitus self-help and will discuss the features so you can get a better idea of what is out there and what app you could benefit you.
Here is a list of apps we'll discuss today:
The main motto of the T-minus app is “supporting your tinnitus wellness”. They do this through their comprehensive and customisable sound therapy library. The T-minus library houses a majority of the tinnitus frequencies, from fractal tones and nature sounds to like and unlooped recordings from all around the world. The app offers excellent customisation of sounds, allowing users to combine, add an overlying white, brown or pink noise, or increase the volume of the sounds in a particular ear.
Not only does T-Minus stand out when it comes to personalised therapy, but they also understand the importance of education in tinnitus. They have a robust hub for users filled with the latest news from major tinnitus charities and research bodies around the world. They host regular Q&A sessions with tinnitus professionals so users can get answers to any burning questions they may have. The app also has a built-in gratitude diary for users to note down their good and not so good days, to help track and understand the reactions users have with themselves and their tinnitus, all allowing for better self-realisation and growth.
Although T-Minus is free to download you’ll need a premium subscription to either Apple Play or Spotify Music.
Beltone, a US hearing aid manufacturer, created a free app for tinnitus called Calmer with 3 content sections - Relax, Sound and Learn. Their Sound library has a large bank of sounds (with a handy download function for later use) for you to sift through and find suitable tunes for your tinnitus relief.
Their Relax section encompasses stress reduction techniques with some basic meditation and breathing exercises with useful lifestyle reminders for stress relieving activities such as enjoying the fresh air outdoors. Their Learn modules not only offer information on tinnitus but also coping strategies that can be beneficial for users.
This free app is a great stepping stone for embarking on your tinnitus self-management journey. It does a good job of introducing you to new techniques that other apps go into detail with.
NB. ReSound, Beltone’s sister company, offers a similar app named ReSound Tinnitus Relief.
Tinnitus Aid is a free version of the Tinnitus HQ app. The app houses a large variety of high quality nature sounds that have been recorded at various real locations around the world. The app was built on the conclusion of this study that tinnitus can be managed “by listening to sounds that have been filtered to remove your specific tinnitus frequencies”.
The free app also allows you to sample their bandstop and bandpass filters to better allow you to identify your specific tinnitus frequency and customise your own personal sound masks. They pride themselves on their high-definition images captured from around the globe.
A great feature that this app has is the ability to run in the background with other apps running or a locked screen. This is not always the case with some of the more basic apps!
Diapason is an app for tinnitus created by a French company called Immersive Therapy. You’ll be taken through different stages with different aims. Firstly you’ll explore your own tinnitus and be prompted to match your frequency, character and volume of your tinnitus. The app will also explore the effects your tinnitus has on your daily lives. After the app has established this, it moved onto therapy. This French app focuses on delivering sound therapy with the aim that the user's auditory system gets accustomed to the “ringing” they hear. In order to increase interactivity, the makers of the app will prompt you to take control of your own tinnitus treatment. Instead of throwing huge amounts of information at you, they encourage doing little amounts each day.
With all the good things being said about the app, they do not offer a monthly subscription and their yearly fee cost £133 or $169. This is expensive but a small amount of use is offered for free. So give it a try before you decide to invest.
TrackYourTinnitus is an app that can be utilised as a good tool for measuring and tracking your tinnitus, to establish in which circumstances it improves or worsens.
Tinnitus is known to have alleviating and exacerbating factors that can result in variations of perceivability of the tinnitus. People with tinnitus might have a vague memory of their tinnitus variations but reconstructing them might prove difficult when asked. TrackYourTinnitus was built with the aim of allowing users to track their tinnitus perception over long periods of time. The app can be used in conjunction with the website for users to track the variability of their tinnitus and find any association it might have with their daily routine.
This app offers a great way of tracking tinnitus if you want to monitor how it affects your life.
Just like you would work on your physical fitness, the same should apply to your auditory fitness. This is the driving force behind the app AudioCardio. AudioCardio can offer multiple benefits to people with tinnitus coupled with hearing loss. Battling with both tinnitus and hearing loss is difficult, however, it has been found that improving hearing can also hand in hand improve tinnitus. AudioCardio offers therapy to help improve and strengthen the hearing of patients with a technology called Threshold Sound Conditioning. At Stanford University, a clinical trial using AudioCardio on participants with hearing loss found that after 2-week of using the app for an hour a day, a 10-decibel auditory improvement was seen in 70% of the participants.
Before embarking on your journey with AudioCardio, the app will conduct a hearing test to determine the lowest decibel level of sound you can hear. The app records this and will “train” your hearing at your most poorly performing frequency. It is believed that these barely audible tones work to exercise and stimulate the hair cells at this specific threshold, strengthening and improving hearing loss in the long run. Many people with tinnitus have found that as well as their hearing improving, whilst using AudioCardio their tinnitus has also improved. They offer a free trial which gives you a good opportunity to see if this type of therapy works for you.
PS. AudioCardio needs to be used consecutively for 14 days before improvements in hearing can be noticed.
For those of you familiar with meditation, headspace and calm are the most well known and commonly used apps. Headspace now comes with a joint subscription with Spotify, so you can listen to your music and relax whenever you need. These 2 apps cover all the aspects of mindfulness and meditation has never been easier. They have excelled in making these techniques easily digestible and transferable into your daily lives. The main way mindfulness can exert its effects for tinnitus is by alleviating and reducing stress levels in your life. We know now there is a clear link between stress and worsening tinnitus symptoms. Mindfulness not only combats stress but also has a clear link with improved mood and sleep. Mindfulness and meditation can offer the most benefit to tinnitus when practised as targeted mindfulness, however, the currently existing mindfulness app cannot offer this. This might be a downside of these apps, but it does not negate the positive benefits the app can have on your tinnitus.
Oto is an app for tinnitus that brings together all the effective therapies into a progressive programme of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), targeted mindfulness, relaxation therapy and education. Not only does Oto provide science based therapy to better manage the tinnitus but it also offers mindfulness programmes specifically targeted at reducing stress and anxiety linked to worsening tinnitus. Oto also provides access to a collection of specially curated masks that you can use to help relax, sleep, or just provide some respite from your tinnitus. Oto also allows you to track the impact your tinnitus is having on your life with a symptom log. You’ll be able to see how your tinnitus is affecting all aspects of your life, from sleep to mood or concentration.
The Oto team consists of doctors, audiologists, therapists, voice artists, sound engineers and researchers, and has decades of experience in helping people with tinnitus and insight from all walks of life. You can download Oto for free here.
There are a large number of apps for tinnitus to choose from. To find out what works for you, it is best to gradually work your way through what is available. We are all unique and what might work for one person might not work for you. You should start by identifying what aspect of your tinnitus you would like to get help for and then find an app that can best offer you this. Approach the apps with an open mind and don’t overwhelm yourself with too many apps simultaneously. Make note of the different aspects of certain apps that you benefited the most from. This way you will build a bank of techniques you can use when you need it the most.
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