Think you got problems? Hows this for a doozy. Hearing loss (bad enough) AND tinnitus, the medical term for ringing in the ears. Great. Now you hear less and ring more. Its hard to imagine a more maddening problem.
Vivatone is a leading developer of quality hearing devices and, as such, the company seeks solutions to a wide range of hearing problems including hearing loss and tinnitus.
Dr. Natan Bauman
Recently, AudiologyOnlines Dr. Paul Dybala had the opportunity to interview Dr. Natan Bauman, inventor of the Vivatone hearing aid, one of the first receiver-in-the-ear open fit hearing aids. Dr. Bauman is now using sound amplification to address both hearing loss and tinnitus.
During the interview, Dr. Bauman explained what would appear to be a conflict using hearing aids to amplify sound to reduce tinnitus. Doesnt that just make the ringing louder?
It is not a new concept that hearing aids, to some degree, help people who have tinnitus. They actually help at two different levels. At one level, they reduce the relative perception of the internal sound of the tinnitus by providing external sound.
The other level is that when the brain is deprived of proper sound stimulation due to hearing loss, the brain has a tendency of increasing gain [volume] in the outer hair cells of the cochlea. By doing that, the auditory pathways inadvertently promote tinnitus. Therefore, amplification has been used widely for people who suffer from tinnitus and who obviously have some degree of hearing loss, Dr. Bauman clarified.
Amplifying Ambient Sound
The idea is simple and certainly makes sense. If youve experienced hearing loss and have symptoms of tinnitus at least 50% of the time, increasing the volume of environmental sounds would go a long way in masking the tinnitus symptoms. Instead of ringing in your ears, you hear the birds, the breeze the world without interruption or distraction.
In the AudiologyOnline interview, Dr. Bauman explained it this way:
It is a program for amplifying environmental sounds; this is not a noise generator that is used with my other tinnitus devices specifically for tinnitus treatment. Instead, the hearing aid is designed to immerse the wearer in ambient environmental sound more than normal amplification would.
By wearing a hearing aid designed to increase sound volume to compensate for hearing loss, the patient gains an added benefit tinnitus is masked, but not by some artificial noise generator. Vivatones approach is to mask tinnitus by amplifying low level ambient environmental sounds. You know, the kind you are used to hear.
Now that makes sense.
Vivatones Tinnitus Program Lots of Benefits
Vivatones Tinnitus Program is based on lofty but achievable objectives as both lab and field testing have shown.
The benefits to users of Vivatones Tinnitus program include:
Amplification of low level ambient sounds allows to mask tinnitus
Reducing the tinnitus, allows reduction in stress caused by the tinnitus.
Open ear amplification that delivers a more natural sound and allows nature to mask the ringing in the ears thing.
Vivatone delivers broader frequency response due to their high frequency receiver.
Since many individuals who experience tinnitus are also highly-sensitive to loud sounds (its called hyperacusis if you want to discuss it with your hearing healthcare professional), the sound produced by Vivatone is compressed, meaning the sharpness that sometimes causes pain in tinnitus is eliminated.
- Vivatone units employ Microphone Polar Plot', an omni directional microphone that picks up environmental sounds naturally the way sound is normally delivered to the ear.
Finding the Right Fit
According to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) it is estimated nearly 50 million Americans have tinnitus to some degree. Of these, 12 million have severe enough symptoms to seek medical advice. And two million patients are so seriously debilitated that they cannot function on a normal, day-to-day basis.
Suffering from tinnitus can be a quality of life issue for many persons. If you have hearing loss and suffer from tinnitus, you already know this and Vivatone may have a solution to address both your hearing loss and your tinnitus.
According to Vivatone, in order to be considered a candidate for their tinnitus program the first requirement is hearing loss must be the primary complaint and tinnitus secondary. If tinnitus is the primary complaint, a different tinnitus program may be more suitable.
If this sounds like what you have been experiencing and are motivated to seek help, it may be time to make that appointment with a hearing healthcare professional to determine if the Vivatone Tinnitus Program is right for you.
Just think, youll be able to not only hear what youve been missing, but reduce that ringing inside your head.
Hey, a two-fer. Go for it.