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Headphones for tinnitus victim

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, I've been listenting to music for many years but have always been using the crappy "come with the player" earbuds. I have now got constant tinnitus with ringing in the ears for many months now. I ensure to listen to music as quiet as possible, but still feel the buds are very dangerous for my hearing, as they seem to sometimes hurt my ears.

Now here is the question:

I want to buy some good new headphones. I want to know what headphones are best for people with tinnitus and ear problems, and also what headphones I should steer clear from. I am drifting towards buying anything that I don't have to stick into my ear, as that seems to bother my ears.

Thanks for your help guys...
post #2 of 38
I have exactly the same problem. I personally find the canalphones the best as I find it masks the ringing quite well (dont know why this is). They are Sony EX71s - not great sounding but comfortable which when you suffer from tinnitus is very important. However you have to be very careful when removing them - dont try and remove them too quickly as I find the sudden change in ear pressure caused by removing them quickly can make the tinnitus worse. I have always wanted some better canalphones like the ER6 but I decided these would really hurt a tinnitus sufferer.

However, I find I have to listen to them at very low volumes for the same reason you mention.

I once did an experiment with finding a high pitch noise that sounded as similar to the ringing in my ears as possible by using a computer and messing around in a sound editor. I then borrowed a pair of Bose (I think they were Bose anyway) noise cancelling headphones from a friend and fed the sound from the PC into the microphone of the noise cancelling headphones. I actually found that this seemed to reduce the ringing in my ears when listening to music. This was some time ago and I never got round to buying a pair as they were too expensive.

To listen to music at slightly higher volumes I find open cup type headphones to be the best (better than closed cup) as I find they dont hurt as much. Again I dont know why this is.
post #3 of 38
I'd take a break from headphones all together. Give your ears some rest. If you do want to use headphones, it seems to me that a closed pair is best because (I'm assuming you'll use them portable) you don't have to crank up the volume to drown out outside noises. I don't know if certain frequencies make the tinnitus worse but it would make sense to me to get headphones who are light on those frequencies. (i.e. lower in volume than other frequenties)
post #4 of 38
Luckily I do not have constant tinnitus, but sometimes: approx. 5 times a week for about 15 minutes. To stop that I am often successful in thinking: that´s good, I do not hear the neighbours now. Usually the ringing stops soon afterwards.
Concerning the headphone-situation I agree that loud volumes trigger tinnitus. To avoid external noise I use canalphones a lot. Sometimes I have found that these can cause the noise-trigger easier than open phones. However when listening very loud with these it will happen as well. My suggestion is to listen with canalphones at a moderate level because they suppress external noise best. If that noise is making me nervous the ringing starts due to that reason.
Hope it helps...
post #5 of 38
I get it every now and again, the medusa's give it to you somethign shocking ... never touchign them for music again.
post #6 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa
I'd take a break from headphones all together. Give your ears some rest. If you do want to use headphones, it seems to me that a closed pair is best because (I'm assuming you'll use them portable) you don't have to crank up the volume to drown out outside noises. I don't know if certain frequencies make the tinnitus worse but it would make sense to me to get headphones who are light on those frequencies. (i.e. lower in volume than other frequenties)
As a severe tinnitus sufferer (actually Menieres Disease where one of the side effects of the disease is acute tinnitus), I can assure you that closed cup headphones are not the best - this is bad advice to be giving a tinnitus sufferer. Open cup are much better. I dont why this is but the sound doesnt hurt the ears anywhere near as much as closed cup headphones.

If you are not a tinnitus sufferer, then please be careful with advice based on assumptions. You could be doing someone a lot of damage to their eardrums. Believe me, when I first got tinnitus, I spent a lot of time at specialists who explained what the causes was and explained how the ear drum worked, etc. Any further damage to the ear drum can have a very negative effect for tinnitus sufferers.

My advice is open cup headphones with a volume limiter. I also always change the EQ to reduce the treble as I find this more comfortable.

I use EX71 canalphones which I wouldnt recommend to fellow tinnitus sufferers generally but in my case I find them comfortable to wear and the sound they produce seems to be more comfortable than some other headphones I have tried.

To those who dont suffer from severe tinnitus - please be more careful with advice especially when just making assumptions. You could be doing a lot more harm than good. I have suffered for years and its very frustrating just how easy it is to make the problem worse. And if you havent suffered from it, you cannot even start to understand the problems it causes.
post #7 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by UAndy
Luckily I do not have constant tinnitus, but sometimes: approx. 5 times a week for about 15 minutes. To stop that I am often successful in thinking: that´s good, I do not hear the neighbours now. Usually the ringing stops soon afterwards.
Concerning the headphone-situation I agree that loud volumes trigger tinnitus. To avoid external noise I use canalphones a lot. Sometimes I have found that these can cause the noise-trigger easier than open phones. However when listening very loud with these it will happen as well. My suggestion is to listen with canalphones at a moderate level because they suppress external noise best. If that noise is making me nervous the ringing starts due to that reason.
Hope it helps...
The ringing in your ears caused my loud music is not really tinnitus as I was told by my specialist. Tinnitus is a permanent problem and is not specifically treatable. There are only ways of helping a sufferer cope with it - there is no medical solution.

Tinnitus is most commonly a side effect of a more serious medical condition. Most commonly this is Menieres Disease (as in my case). It can also be caused by an imbalance of pressure in the eardrums.

Please do not confuse the ringing in your ears after listening to loud music with tinnitus. It is not the same thing.
post #8 of 38
Consult your doctor, but the tinnitus most of the times is associated with abuse of the hearing, and may be reduced or even in most cases cured by resting, I suggest you to rest and avoid the complete use of the hearing for a few days...but again I'm not a doctor, so consult one first.....there are other causes though, some side effects, something you eat, etc....but the doctor will tell you....no headphones will help you with that, all the opposite...
post #9 of 38
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice from everyone, especially tridion. Perhaps I only have ringing in the ears then. I am due to get that checked as soon as I can, but it's hard to get a specialist appointment.

I'm not sure about the EX71s as you mentioned. I really do not like the idea of having another headphone where I am sticking something in my ear canal. Normally when I take my headphones out it feels like I have just really hurt my inner ear, as it feels bare and waxey instantly. I think I am going to stop listening to music with headphones for a month or so and see what happens.

Ears suck.

Any more advice or experience is appreciated.
post #10 of 38
Headphones with harsh highs tend to aggravate my tinnitus.
post #11 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by tridion
As a severe tinnitus sufferer (actually Menieres Disease where one of the side effects of the disease is acute tinnitus), I can assure you that closed cup headphones are not the best - this is bad advice to be giving a tinnitus sufferer. Open cup are much better. I dont why this is but the sound doesnt hurt the ears anywhere near as much as closed cup headphones.

If you are not a tinnitus sufferer, then please be careful with advice based on assumptions. You could be doing someone a lot of damage to their eardrums. Believe me, when I first got tinnitus, I spent a lot of time at specialists who explained what the causes was and explained how the ear drum worked, etc. Any further damage to the ear drum can have a very negative effect for tinnitus sufferers.

My advice is open cup headphones with a volume limiter. I also always change the EQ to reduce the treble as I find this more comfortable.

I use EX71 canalphones which I wouldnt recommend to fellow tinnitus sufferers generally but in my case I find them comfortable to wear and the sound they produce seems to be more comfortable than some other headphones I have tried.

To those who dont suffer from severe tinnitus - please be more careful with advice especially when just making assumptions. You could be doing a lot more harm than good. I have suffered for years and its very frustrating just how easy it is to make the problem worse. And if you havent suffered from it, you cannot even start to understand the problems it causes.
I'm sorry. I was just trying to think what is logical. I know from my own experiances (I too suffer from tinnitus caused by another illness. My tinnitus goes from severe to mild. Depends how sick I am that day) that the louder the volumes you put the headphones on the worse the tinnitus gets. So yes, I assumed that headphones that block out outside noise will let you listen to a lower volume in loud environments.
I have a pair of closed cans and thusfar haven't experianced the tinnitus getting worse with them. But I don't use them that often. So maybe I will change my views on this.

Anyway, thanks for the warning! I'll make sure I'll pay good attention when using my HD25-1s closed headphones.
post #12 of 38
FWIW

You can use HeadRoom's graph builder to compare frequency response and isolation of headphones...

http://www.headphone.com/layout.php?...subTopicID=189

Reviewing some of the graphs it appears that several headphones show increased high frequency responses (undesireable?).


JF
post #13 of 38
Most importantly though, a tinnitus sufferer should NEVER use headphones without an attenuator. I cannot stress that enough.

It is extremely important when you are using your own headphones on a plane flight. Without using an attenuator, if the captain suddenly starts talking over the system, it can suddenly be of a much louder volume without warning. This is extremely harmful especially to tinnitus sufferers.

Although it is essential for plane flights, I would recommend they are used at all times.
post #14 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pieinface
Thanks for the advice from everyone, especially tridion. Perhaps I only have ringing in the ears then. I am due to get that checked as soon as I can, but it's hard to get a specialist appointment.

I'm not sure about the EX71s as you mentioned. I really do not like the idea of having another headphone where I am sticking something in my ear canal. Normally when I take my headphones out it feels like I have just really hurt my inner ear, as it feels bare and waxey instantly. I think I am going to stop listening to music with headphones for a month or so and see what happens.

Ears suck.

Any more advice or experience is appreciated.
Sorry your mouth sucks not your ears

When you do see a specialist, they will show you a complex model of the inner ear. Its a seriously complicated piece of kit ! They'll then explain what has caused it in your case. You will go through a lot of audiology tests and also this really horrible test where they force water into the inner ear and you kind of black out and they time how long it takes you to recover. Its really horrible as the room starts to spin and all sorts. But it is neccessary. They'll recommend masking devices but I found those of limited use. They may even do a brain scan like they did in my case. I didnt mind this as I got to keep it and can now prove to people that I actually have a brain (I did used to wonder)

I agree that canalphones like the EX71 are not advisable for tinnitus sufferers. I use them with the smallest ear buds that came with them - this way they do not create a seal and therefore do not affect the pressure in my ear drum.

The main problem (as I was told by my specialist) is that any earphone/headphone which creates any amount of seal (like canalphones or closed cup headphones to an extent) with your ear will be having a small effect on the air pressure on you ear drum. Even the smallest change in pressure on the ear drum can increase the ringing in the ear and the pain it causes. So it is not necessary the music itself that is causing the pain, but the effect of the slight change in air pressure on the ear drum. You can test this by wearing the earphones for a period of time without listening to anything.

That is why open cup headphones are advisable because they cause the least pressure difference to the inner ear.

I must admit that I didnt actually follow this advice that I was given by my specialist as I already owned a pair of Ex71s and found by changing to the smaller ear sleeves that came with them that it solved the problem. When I first saw the specialist all those years ago my first question was whether I could use headphones or not and that was basically the answer I got. Maybe I should have taken the advice a bit more seriously, but to be honest with Menieres Disease the tinnitus is the least of my worries.
post #15 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by tridion
The main problem (as I was told by my specialist) is that any earphone/headphone which creates any amount of seal (like canalphones or closed cup headphones to an extent) with your ear will be having a small effect on the air pressure on you ear drum. Even the smallest change in pressure on the ear drum can increase the ringing in the ear and the pain it causes. So it is not necessary the music itself that is causing the pain, but the effect of the slight change in air pressure on the ear drum. You can test this by wearing the earphones for a period of time without listening to anything.
If air pressure is a problem then I would think strong bass, particularly from subwoofers, would be a problem.
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