Nature Sounds for the Treatment of Tinnitus - Scientific Facts
In the previous section you learnt about a number of treatment options for Tinnitus and discovered that sound therapy is a very promising form of Tinnitus treatment. However, not all sound therapies are the same, in fact, they vary greatly in their efficacy. For example, White Noise, which is very often used for the treatment of Tinnitus may not be as efficient as what the industry wants us to believe. A meta-analysis (i.e. an in-depth analysis of a great number of other studies) on the topic of Tinnitus therapy using White Noise masking, conducted by Jonathan Hobson and colleagues (*) shows that "The limited data from the included studies show that [white noise] sound therapy on its own is of unproven benefit in the treatment of tinnitus". Another study that used 'modulated pure tones' (MPT) compared these MPT's with White Noise (**). The results confirm the first study as this second study did not find White Noise to suppress the annoying Tinnitus in any way. On the other hand, the modulated pure tones they used in their study produced tinnitus suppression for about 90% of the subjects, however, this was only observed in one third of the trials they conducted. The researchers achieved the best results with frequencies between 6000 and 9000 Hz, achieving a reduction of perceived tinnitus loudness by up to 39%. Unfortunately, the effects disappear a short time after the treatment was stopped.
One problem that between 50% and 71% of Tinnitus sufferers experience are sleeping problems, caused by the annoying whistle in their ears. In a study that used bedside sound generators that play sounds of nature, like ocean waves, water in a creek, bird songs and rain (***), researchers found evidence that listening to sounds of nature statistically significantly improved the sleep quality of Tinnitus sufferers (the term 'statistically significantly' in layman's terms means that the scientifically accepted threshold for evidence of the efficacy of a treatment has been reached). The sounds of a gentle river and the joyous songs of birds were the most popular sounds. Ocean Waves and Rain were the next group of favourites amongst Tinnitus sufferers. White Noise, which was also an option on the device proved to be the least popular of the sounds, again confirming the inefficacy of this sound that other studies have found. One other important finding of this study was that the beneficial effect of the nature sounds was heightened when listeners had an emotional connection to the sounds, like for example bringing up memories of a particularly enjoyable vacation at a farm with a nearby creek, a hike through a spring forest full of cheerful birds, a stroll on a beach on a beautiful and sunny day or the safe feeling of lying in a warm and cosy bed on a rainy night. On of the most interesting, and possibly most convincing, facts that this particular research study reports is that 90% of participants continued to listen to the nature sounds during the 4 weeks after the initial treatment. This seems to further confirm the efficacy of listening to nature in treating Tinnitus related sleeping problems because if it was not effective, the study participants could have simply stopped to use the treatment. However, according to the study findings, people chose to continue the treatment, thus indicating that they slept better when listening to the sounds of nature. And if people sleep better they are likely to also experience improvements in their overall perception of quality of life. Read on for a summary of our discussion and find out about the benefits of listening to Nature Sounds. Reduce your Tinnitus related sleeping problems and improve your daytime performance by getting better rest at night.
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Keywords: Nature Sounds Tinnitus Treatment, Ocean Waves, Water in Creek, Bird Songs, Rain
* Hobson, Jonathan, Edward Chisholm, and Amr El Refaie. "Sound Therapy (masking) in the Management of Tinnitus in Adults." Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) 11 (2012): doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006371.pub3.
** Reavis, Kelly M, Vanessa S Rothholtz, Qing Tang, Jeff A Carroll, Hamid Djalilian, and Fan-Gang Zeng. "Temporary Suppression of Tinnitus by Modulated Sounds." Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology : JARO 13, no. 4 (2012): doi:10.1007/s10162-012-0331-6.
*** Handscomb, L. "Use of Bedside Sound Generators by Patients with Tinnitus-related Sleeping Difficulty: Which Sounds Are Preferred and Why?" Acta oto-laryngologica. Supplementum , no. 556 (2006): doi:10.1080/03655230600895275.