The first thing to remember is that tinnitus can range from being only a slight annoyance to being absolutely unbearable. With the needs of tinnitus sufferers being so varied, there is a need for a variety of management options, including technology, to help alleviate the symptoms.
Tinnitus apps – what’s out there?
Apps are generally much easier to access and use, as well as often being significantly cheaper than buying products, which is why they are so popular – tinnitus maskers are no exception. With lots of free tinnitus apps around, there is little harm in trying them to see if they help alleviate your tinnitus. However, for those who suffer from more than just occasional slight discomfort, it is important not to solely rely on tinnitus apps or any tinnitus technology for that matter. It is advisable to use these apps along with advice from a tinnitus professional. When used together, they can be a great way of monitoring your tinnitus, as well as easily adjusting your preferences, needs and requirement with your therapy.
There are several hearing aid manufacturers that have developed tinnitus apps – they are a good source of information, advice and knowledge on how best to help with your tinnitus. These include the GN Resound Relief app, the Oticon Tinnitus Sound app, the Phonak Balance app and the Starkey Relax app. These apps include a disclaimer stressing the importance of using the app under the guidance of a tinnitus professional. All these apps are free of charge, free of adverts and available on both iOS and Android.
The GN ReSound Relief app has set soundtracks as well as an option which allows you to create your own programmes using natural environmental sounds and music. It also tracks your usage to help you and your tinnitus specialist monitor which sounds work best for you. In addition to the masking sounds, this app has a fun side to it, in the form of distraction exercises and colour stimuli, to keep your mind occupied and take your focus away from the tinnitus.
A tinnitus app that can talk to your hearing aid
So far it sounds very similar to other tinnitus apps. However, what’s interesting about GN Resound is that all their wireless hearing aids have this capability. This means that their hearing aids can connect to your smartphones and tablets wirelessly, allowing you to hear the tinnitus masker straight into your hearing aid. In fact, it allows you to hear any audio output from your smartphone and tablet through your hearing aid.
The GN Resound LiNX and LiNX2 premium hearing aids can directly connect to your Apple smartphones and tablets and some Android models; other hearing aid models and Android devices currently require either the GN Resound Phone Clip or the GN Resound Mini Mic as a connector.
The Phone Clip functions as a remote control in addition to connecting to your phone, allowing you to easily change the programme function on your hearing aids as well as allowing you to stream music or any other form of audio directly into the hearing aids. The Mini Mic allows you to gain better speech understanding in noisy places by reducing the distance between yourself and the sound source, allowing you to hear the speech more than the noise – similar to a loop system. The Mini Mic can also connect directly to your smart phone or any audio output socket using a wire to stream the sound directly to your hearing aids.
Other hearing aid manufacturers have similar capabilities but most require an additional bluetooth streamer to connect your hearing aids to a smartphone. If you would like to know more about whether your hearing aids are suitable for this type of technology, you should speak to your audiologist.
Wireless technology has changed the way we do most things; however, it’s often not very inclusive for people with a hearing loss. It is therefore encouraging to see more and more mainstream technologies such as smartphones being used to improve accessibility for people with hearing loss and tinnitus.