Unless you’ve been preposterously lucky, at some point in your life you’ve experienced at least mild tinnitus. The term refers to noises that appear to be inside our heads, often ringing, whistling or buzzing tones.
The strange thing about tinnitus is, though we know that exposure to loud noises like heavy machinery or music can cause it it’s not actually a sound at all.
The noise isn’t quite in the ears, where we expect, but somewhere within our auditory receptors in our brains. Theoretically speaking the noise exists in our minds where the default signal for silence was- so the sufferer can find it impossible to rest or concentrate.
For some reason, it appears to be a particular kind of noise at the root of the problem. A deafening noise can damage the cells in our inner ears responsible for hearing. The damage causes the cells to report to the brain that there is a sound, and thus we ‘hear’ it.
Music can be very loud, but if the balance of sound coming through the P.A is good and not causing discord you should avoid tinnitus. As a personal example, in my wilder days I was a DJ and did studio production too; so after a while I learned to spot the inexperienced sound engineer who was guaranteed to shred my ear drums.
What I would have done in those days for a cure to tinnitus; and in the grand scale of things, mine was only ever minor. Thinking about the poor souls who experience tinnitus for weeks or even months at a time accompanied by crippling migraines makes my head spin.
Fortunately, there is help available. The British Tinnitus Association recommends medication, counselling and relaxation therapy, but also alternatives such as white noise generators or listening to a ticking clock or a fan in motion.
The purpose is to give the mind something else to listen to so that the default tone (the interpretation of silence in the mind) is no longer interrupted by the effect of tinnitus. Seems pretty logical, right? Use a brain hack to fight off what is effectively another brain hack.
This recommendation has led to research that has proven the use of Binaural Beats as an effective cure for tinnitus, which is great news for sufferers who are fed up of hearing doctors say, listen to something repetitive to trick the brain, I mean surely there had to be a more effective solution than a clock. We are living in the 21st Century, after all.
You see, the repetitive properties of binaural beats cure tinnitus in exactly the same way as listening to a clock, but better. In some cases, this means eliminating the need for medication through the use of sound, which is always a great benefit.
As you know from the title of this piece, it is possible to cure, or at least mitigate, the effects of tinnitus through the use of Binaural Beats.
As we know, the effect of differing tones creates an audible effect that trains our brainwaves to match the frequency heard. The really exciting news for tinnitus sufferers comes from this article in Hearing Journal.
What the graph below shows is the results of a study of the effects of Brainwave Entrainment on 26 tinnitus sufferers- as we see, all of them found their symptoms reduced. In the words of the good scientists:
“We believe this modality is very effective because it positively affects both habituation to reaction by its relaxing effect and the habituation to perception as a partial masker. This dual effect can be achieved because the BWE auditory stimulation is very pleasant to listen to. That enables it to provide a daily stimulation as partial masking used by TRT modality and to produce an extra relaxation effect when incorporated in the other auditory cognitive relaxation techniques.”
How cool is that? Of course, this is a small sample study, but the results are highly encouraging. But what if you want to try it for yourself?
Well, there are certain things to consider in order to keep yourself safe. First among these is that all binaural beats are not created equally. As noted in the above study, theta waves are associated with our brain states when meditating or in deep relaxation. Using theta to treat tinnitus is considered optimal for this reason.
The only known problem with the use of binaural beats for tinnitus occurred when beta beats were studied, “which may exacerbate the reaction to tinnitus.”
The reason behind this is that beta waves are the brain’s alert state, and under the principle of Frequency Following Response (the process through which binaural beats train our brain waves) adding beta waves to tinnitus may exacerbate the symptoms instead of mitigating them. Obviously, we don’t want to do that, so we should stick to theta waves that provide a calm and tranquil state.
In conclusion, binaural beats as a tinnitus cure is still a field under research as to the full range of potential benefits, but what is clear so far is that theta waves can have an almost immediate effect- even in cases where tinnitus is a symptom of a larger medical issue.
As we learn more about the fascinating effects sound can have on our bodies, the potential for free, universally available treatment will only grow.
Rather than popping pills which affect the chemistry of our bodies and minds, if we can achieve superior effects through listening to tones that are actually pleasant I think that is infinitely preferable.
Here at BBM we are of course happy to again be seeing the validation of binaural beats by medical science, and it's such great news for us to be able to help relieve sufferers from from the ancillary effects of tinnitus such as stress, anxiety, insomnia and in some cases depression.