Dr. Wright's Blog

The Use of Red Noise - Tinnitus Sound Support

Peter is one of my most “severe” tinnitus patients.  I have known him now for about 6 years and he has been all over North America seeking help to manage his tinnitus.  He went through the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy program at St. Paul’s hospital in Vancouver and was one of the initial people to use white noise to help with his tinnitus.  He has been to the Mayo clinic on several occasions seeking help to manage his tinnitus. 

He came into my office days away from resorting to having surgery on his stapedial and tensor tympani muscles.  He was going to have doctors laser cut them in an attempt to lessen the tinnitus. 

A few months before I saw Peter, I was learning about the use of “red noise” to manage tinnitus.  Red noise has more energy at lower frequencies, even more so than pink noise. It decreases in power by 6 dB per octave and has a softer quality compared to the traditional white noise that is often used for tinnitus sound support. The sound is a low roar resembling a waterfall or heavy rainfall and is considered “more pleasing” for many people who have tinnitus.

As Peter had tried white noise in the past and had found it beneficial, I wanted to make sure that I had that as an option for him.  But I also wanted to try the red noise to see if we could decrease the tinnitus even further.   I had to convince Peter to move from the white to the red noise as he was reluctant. 

Today I saw Peter and the first thing he said was “I have great news; I hardly hear my tinnitus at all.  I am barely aware of it when I am using these and I really feel like you have saved my life.”  Peter is finally able to get off his sleeping medication because with the use of the red noise he no longer needs it.  The quality of life difference for Peter is incredible. 

We are using the Oticon Alta Pro 1 Receiver In The Ear hearing aids with the red noise program and no modulation.  He has said to me that he would be happy to talk about his journey with tinnitus and assist anyone who needs to talk someone who has been in their shoes. 

If you would like Peter to call you, email me at drwright@broadmeadhearing.com

If you would like to learn more about the Oticon hearing aids with tinnitus sound support, email or call me at 250-479-2921 to set up an appointment.

Active vs. Passive Listening

Sometimes in clinic I hear people describe listening as “reaching to hear”.    I interpret that as a sense of working to listen.  This is also what is referred to as active listening.  What people with normal hearing fail to understand is that when you have hearing loss, most of your listening is active listening.  Even with the use of hearing aids, making a concentrated effort to hear is required.  This is in contrast to the passive listening that many people with normal hearing do without even thinking about it. 

For example, I'm chopping vegetables in the kitchen and my husband starts out of the blue asking me about where I put the kids’ hockey skates.  This is out of context to what I am doing and he is not facing me and is actively looking for the skates, and he didn’t get my attention prior to speaking.  But, incredibly, the sounds flowed through to my brain unimpeded and I was able to answer the question without needing it repeated.  Our brains are amazing to be able to do this so fluidly. 

It’s not that easy when someone has hearing loss.  It takes more time to localize the sound source and catch the first few words so right off the bat, the person with hearing loss could need repetition before the 3rd word of the question is said.  There is one quick and easy tip.  Use the person’s name.  Getting someone’s attention prior to launching into speech switches the attention to active listening and then, not unlike being in the ready position when you are shortstop in a baseball game, the hard of hearing person  can catch the conversation ball and not fall behind. 

This can be incredibly helpful not only to the listener, but to the speaker as well as it may be the key to not having to repeat.


Tinnitus Solution Given FDA Clearance

In the fall of last year Broadmead Hearing Clinic was asked to be a clinical trial test site for Otoharmonics to evaluate their new tinnitus treatment methods.  We had a number of participants from our locations contribute to the overall study, which has finally been approved by the FDA.  We are very excited about this news because many people who received the treatment in the trial were seeking to continue the treatment following the conclusion of the trial because they found their tinnitus to be reduced as a result of using their Levo device. 

Tinnitus is a growing concern and for years, people were told there was "nothing they could do about it".  This is happily no longer the case as more inventive products and technology are coming to market to serve the needs of this population.  We see many people with bothersome tinnitus that we can almost always help. 

We were lucky to have been able to work with local Starfish Medical to help to improve the interface that Audiologists and patients will use in the future. 



Hearing Fact

More than 8 million Canadians have some type of hearing problem. Hearing difficulties are often unrecognized by the person involved. Children and teenagers seldom complain about the symptoms of hearing loss, and adults may lose their hearing so gradually they do not realize it is happening.

The first step in treatment of a hearing problem is a hearing evaluation by an audiologist.