Tinnitus is a common problem. In fact, more than 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, the experience of sound, noise or ringing in the ears in the presence of sound in the environment. These sounds can vary from loud to soft, high pitch to low pitch and from constant to periodic. Tinnitus is very common in those who have hearing loss.
For most people, tinnitus is not a significant problem, but more of an irritation. For others, the tinnitus they experience can become a substantial disruption in their lives, affecting sleep and causing anxiety, stress and even depression. With a combination of counseling and sound therapy, the effects of tinnitus can be minimized.
The use of sound to minimize the effects of tinnitus is meant to help the brain habituate or become accustomed to the tinnitus. The type of sounds used can be amplified sound from hearing aids, environmental sounds, noise or music. A new type of sound used to help the brain habituate is called Zen fractal music and comes from a hearing aid manufacturer called Widex. Based on what is known as “fractal technology,” Zen music is a series of chime-like tones that play randomly but with a rhythm that is meant to mimic the resting heart rate. Each Zen program can be adjusted for tempo, pitch and volume.
The goal of Zen technology is to aid in relaxation in order to decrease the wearer’s aggravation and stress from continuous tinnitus and thus improve overall quality of life. The Zen music can be played by itself with no amplification of outside sounds or in addition to conventional amplification. A program that incorporates a low-level white noise along with the Zen music can also be programmed into the hearing aid. Each program is accessed through a push button on the hearing aid or by remote control. A survey performed by researchers at Widex revealed that the use of Zen fractal music as a way to decrease the severity of tinnitus is very successful. In fact, 85.7% of patients surveyed reported a reduction in tinnitus severity1.
The Zen fractal technology is found in all of the Widex Mind family of hearing aids. If tinnitus is a constant barrage of sound that causes stress or aggravation in your daily life, ask your adiologist today if Zen is right for you.
1 The Efficacy of Fractal Music Employed in Hearing Aids for Tinnitus Management, Francis Kuk, PhD; Heidi Peeters, MA; and Chi Lau, PhD; Hearing Journal Sept 2010