Deafness/Hearing Impairment/wearable sound generator

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QUESTION: I should start by saying I don't have tinnitus, but I spend a lot of time online reading and researching. I was recently reading online (at American Tinnitus Association, I think) about a sound therapy treatment for tinnitus involving a wearable sound generator. I would find this very useful to help me sleep. Where or how could I buy one of these devices? Do they require a diagnosis/prescription through my doctor's office or is it over-the-counter somewhere? If it doesn't cost a small fortune, I'd be interested in getting one. Even so much as a recommended store that would carry it would be great!

ANSWER: Mati,

There are different levels or grades of sound generators.  If you do not have tinnitus, I would recommend getting an over-the-counter device.  Your local electronics store or general home supply store should have one.  They typically make sounds like: running water in a stream, ocean waves, rain, night noise or general "white" noise.  These machines will usually sit by the bed and make a soft continuous sound intended to sooth you to sleep.  You can even download various apps for your phone or software for your computer that will do the same thing.  A "Google" search will give you several options in that area.

The sound generators that we fit in a clinical setting are designed for tinnitus sufferers.  These patient's usually have some degree of hearing loss along with the tinnitus.  The medical grade devices often have at least mild amplification as well as sound generating and are prescriptively set to the patients degree and frequency of tinnitus.  They have computer chips inside the device and they constantly adjust and recalculate based on sounds in the patients environment.  These are typically very expensive.....$1000 to $3500 each.  They are designed to do a lot more than just generate sound.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.  Thank you.
Kelley Linton, AuD  centerforhearing.net  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the thorough answer and quick reply. I figured the medical grade one's would be expensive, and $1000 is just way too much for me. That's why I was hoping for over-the-counter...you mentioned the table top machines, which I've seen before. Have you ever heard of one that's over-the-counter and can be worn? Maybe it fits in the ears?

Answer
so sorry about the delay....I was out of town and didn't realize you had a follow up question.

Yes the medical ones are expensive.  I do not know of any over-the-counter device you can wear in your ear just for tinnitus.  Sometimes people will get relief by wearing a mild amplifier in the ear.  All it does it make the sounds in your environment louder so that you don't recognize the tinnitus.  I don't think these devices would be physically comfortable to sleep in nor would they help much since there isn't sound to amplify when you're asleep.

If you want to wear it during your awake hours...then the amplifier in the ear may help.  You can google numerous sites which will offer a generic "personal amplifying device".  These come in all shapes and sizes and will usually run under $500.  They are still pretty expensive but much less than a medical hearing aid.

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Dr. Kelley Linton

Expertise

I'm an audiologist in private practice in Arkansas. I graduated from the University of Florida medical school. I specialize in hearing loss; hearing rehabilitation; hearing aids; noise induced hearing loss; occupational noise exposure; OSHA guidelines and regulations; hearing protection; tinnitis; newborn hearing testing; children and hearing loss and diagnosis and etiology of hearing loss.

Experience

I've been a practicing audiologist for 20 years and have owned a private practice for 14 years. I am also an audiologist in the United States Army where I teach DOD hearing conservation regulations and manage 3000 DOD employees at an army industrial facility.

Organizations
Arkansas Academy of Audiology American Academy of Audiology Academy of Doctors of Audiology American Speech and Hearing Association National Hearing Conservation Association

Publications
Journal of the Academy of Audiology Southwest Times Record, Fort Smith, Arkansas Press Argus Courier, Van Buren, Arkansas

Education/Credentials
Au.D. - Doctor of Audiology, University of Florida American Academy of Audiology fellow member Audiology Board Certification American Speech and Hearing Association certification Arkansas State Audiology license-current CPT United States Army Medical Corps

Awards and Honors
American Speech and Hearing Association "ACE" award x 7 years United States Army Accommodation Award Arkansas Academy of Audiology elected board of director x 3 years Better community award, Fort Smith, AR for volunteer audiology service to free community health clinic

Past/Present Clients
Serving newborn to geriatric ages.....unable to provide specific names.

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