Using iPhone Background Sounds For Tinnitus Masking

Using iPhone Background Sounds For Tinnitus Masking

This article will discuss Apple’s new release, what it means for patients with tinnitus, and what to expect about the best quality sound therapy moving forward.

Dr. Ben Thompson shows how this new apple feature “background sounds” works. 

If you use an iPhone then you’re probably familiar with its many different features. Maybe you’ve set them up with hearing aids or paired it with extensions like Apple Health. With the latest update, iOS 15 also has a new feature called “Background Sounds” that can be used to play calming sounds in the background while you work or relax. Here is what Apple has to say about their recent update:

“Everyday background sounds can be distracting, discomforting, or overwhelming. In support of neurodiversity, Apple is introducing these new background sounds to help minimize distractions and help users focus, stay calm, or rest. These background sounds help to mask unwanted environmental or external noise in the sounds mixed into audio and system sounds.” 

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This feature can be especially helpful for people with tinnitus, as it is often reported that tinnitus is more bothersome in quiet environments. In this blog post, we will discuss how to use the Background Sounds feature on iOS 15 to help reduce or “mask” the sound of tinnitus. We will also provide a list of some of our favorite background sounds to listen to!

What Is Tinnitus? 

Tinnitus is the perception of hearing ringing, buzzing, or other noise in the ears when there is no external source of sound. Tinnitus is most often associated with hearing loss – however, may also be caused by many things, including exposure to loud noise, head or neck injuries, earwax build-up, and certain medications. For some people, tinnitus is a minor annoyance. But for others, it can be a debilitating condition that makes it difficult to concentrate, sleep, or even enjoy silence. 

What Is Sound Therapy? 

There is no cure for tinnitus, but there are treatments that can help lessen the symptoms. One such treatment is sound therapy, which involves using sound to “mask” the ringing noise of tinnitus. The introduction of a different sound that an individual has control over (i.e. type of sound, loudness) can often be helpful to reduce the awareness of tinnitus and/or the associated anxiety.  Some examples of sound therapy include listening to music, white noise machines, or nature sounds. 

Can The New Apple iOS Background Sounds Be Used For Sound Therapy? 

The iOS 15 Background Sounds feature is a great option for sound therapy, as it allows you to play calming sounds in the background while you use your iPhone or iPad. To access the Background Sounds feature, open the “Settings” app and scroll down to “Sounds.” Then, select “Background Sounds” and choose from one of the many built-in sounds, or add your own custom sound. We recommend trying out a few different background sounds to see what works best for you. There are six different sounds available to users: balanced noise (white noise), bright noise (high-frequency noise), dark noise (brown noise), ocean (pulsing sounds), rain, and stream/river. These types of sounds are typically the best types of sounds to help patients deal with tinnitus.

One hidden element of the Background Sounds feature is that you can layer two sounds at the same time. For example, if you are watching Netflix on your iPhone but you want the Background Sounds feature for masking, you can listen to both at the same time. This can be of benefit for individuals who use tinnitus masking feature through their hearing aids, as often the hearing aids’ tinnitus masking will cut out when audio plays from Netflix or other iPhone apps – this is a way to get around that. 

How Loud Should Sound Therapy Be? 

If you are using the Background Sounds feature to mask your tinnitus, we recommend setting the volume at a level that is just barely audible, such that you hear the masker and the tinnitus. The idea is that over time you will begin to associate your tinnitus with a less bothersome sound. This will give you the most relief and encourage habituation (long-term relief from tinnitus). You should also try to find a sound that is not too repetitive, as your brain will pick up on patterns in repetitive masking tracks. 

We hope you found this blog post helpful! If you have any questions about the Background Sounds feature on iOS 15, sound therapy for tinnitus, or how to reduce bothersome tinnitus in general, please feel free to schedule a free consultation with a Treble Health audiologist. We have helped thousands of people find relief from tinnitus, and we’d be happy to do the same for you!

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