Sound Exchange

Tinnitus masking stops maddening ringing in the ears.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

Arry says the hearing aid technology that relieved tinnitus has been a blessing

For the past 30 years, Arry Housh and his wife have owned and operated Arry’s Roofing Services, a fast-track, busy company in Tarpon Springs that specializes in roof repairs and reroofing.

“I got into roofing when I was younger and saw there was a need for good workmanship in the Tampa Bay area, so my wife and I started our own roofing business,” Arry recalls. “We now have two adult sons who manage the business with us.”

But as he got older, Arry developed a maddening condition that progressed over time and eventually interfered with his daily life and his happiness.

“About two years ago, I started hearing ringing in my ears,” Arry describes. “I actually had ringing for the past five or six years, but back then, the sound was on and off. If I was stressed or if my blood pressure was slightly high, it would act up. But two years ago, it became a permanent ring. The sound in my ears was a high-pitched ringing, and it was always there.

“It took me forever to fall asleep, and if I woke up in the middle of the night, it took me just as long to fall back to sleep. Because I was tired, I was becoming depressed. The ringing totally disrupted my life. Thankfully, one of my managers told me about Dean Knoblach, who helps people with this condition. I immediately made an appointment.”

Dean M. Knoblach is a nationally board-certified Hearing Specialist and the founder of Knoblach Hearing Care in Largo. During his initial evaluation of Arry, Dean uncovered the source of Arry’s problem.

“For decades, Arry has routinely been exposed to many high-volume tools such as air hammers and circular saws which, over time, can permanently damage cilia, the tiny hair cells in the auditory nerve,” Dean explains. Most of the time, this becomes a hearing loss, but sometimes, the damage can become more.

A Johns Hopkins study on tinnitus concluded that of the estimated 50 million Americans who suffer with tinnitus (15 percent of the general population), 45 million of those cases will reveal some level of damage to the auditory nerve at the center of it all. That means most cases of tinnitus are irreversible and inoperable, and medications won’t help.

Tinnitus “Flavors”

“Tinnitus comes in a variety of flavors,” Dean notes. “It can sound like cicada bugs, crickets, electricity through a high line wire, a motor running, fans blowing or, in Arry’s case, the ting of a wineglass that never stops.

“In Arry’s case, the volume of the wineglass tinging was an eight, meaning it was roughly thirty-percent louder than anyone he spoke to during the day. But at night it was worse. In a quiet room, with little else to focus on, the wine glass was constantly tinging right in his face.

“Tinnitus masking is not a miracle cure, but for the 90 percent of patients it works. It can make a miraculous difference.” – Dean

“And the louder it got, the more it invaded Arry’s life. It can eventually become the 800-pound gorilla that continually interrupts everything day and night. And no matter where you go, it’s always there. It’s easy to see how this condition can quickly lead to depression.”

While blood pressure and medications can sometimes cause tinnitus as well, “in most cases, it’s caused by some level of acoustic trauma to the auditory nerve that finally hit a breaking point. Since the nerves don’t heal themselves, in most cases the best option for relief is tinnitus masking,” Dean asserts.

The Silver Bullet

How do tinnitus maskers work? In a nutshell, the patient receives a hearing device that can be individually programmed to produce its own masking sound. It could sound like a waterfall in the distance, a babbling brook or waves on a soft sandy beach.

Like a blanket of comforting sound that can effectively cover up the tinnitus, tinnitus maskers push the annoying sound way off into the distance. This in turn helps to trick the brain into not noticing the tinnitus.

“My job is to find the option that works best for each individual case,” Dean says. “In Arry’s case, none of the water options worked. What did work was a binaurally-synchronized internally-generated customized pink noise.

“To other patients, it has sounded like just another noise in their head, but in Arry’s case, it became an invisible force that could push his never ending ting from in front of his face, to feeling like it was across the street behind a closed window.”

Arry reports, “If I really focus hard, I can sometimes hear a little bit of ringing, but most of the time, I don’t even pay attention to it anymore.”

Tinnitus maskers can’t miraculously repair the damaged cilia deep inside the auditory nerve. They can just cover-up the sound that the damaged nerve is always making.

Tinnitus masking is not a miracle cure, but for the 90 percent of patients it works on, it can make a miraculous difference.

“Doing Great”

“I’m doing great now,” Arry raves. “I put the hearing aids in in the morning, take them out before I go to bed and sleep well.

“These hearing aids have been a blessing. I have no more ringing in my ears. They’ve really changed my life for the better. With all the ringing gone, my old happy self came back out.

“To others who have this problem, I recommend seeing Dean. This treatment will really change your life.”

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