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Tinnitus & Neuromonics


Advances in Alleviating the Ringing in our Ears




By:  David Deschesne

Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal

November 7, 2018



   As many of you know, I’m a commercial sound system contractor from way back (30+ years) and that was my “day job” even before I started this newspaper.  I went to school in Ohio to learn recording engineering. When I came back to Northern Maine and decided this is where I’ll stay, I had to figure out another way to put those skills to work since there are no real recording studio businesses in this area, nor could this area support one.  (With the advent of digital audio workstations, even the big city recording studios are suffering because it’s now so easy to create realistic audio tracks electronically in the comfort of your own home, but I digress).

   When I was four months old I had a bout of spinal meningitis which damaged the auditory nerve in my right ear, so I’ve been around 85% deaf on that side all my life.  (Luckily, I was treated at Community General Hospital in Fort Fairfield at a time when we had a great team of doctors in the area and a real hospital—not the moderate first aid station/hospice house with a team of Licensed Clinical Social Workers running around prescribing psychotropic drugs to dummy up the patients to make them forget their problems that the area hospitals have turned into today.) 

   Ironically, even with a hearing impairment, I choose recording and live sound reinforcement as skill sets to develop.

   Around fifteen years ago, while providing sound systems to the Northern Maine Fair, I was walking in front of the grandstand when a band was setting up with their own sound system, which was ridiculously oversized for the area they were playing in, when I was hit in my left ear with a loud blast of feedback from their P.A. system.  This being my only good ear, I was obviously worried.  I lost my hearing for about twenty minutes before it started to come back and my ear felt like it was plugged.  Over time, a persistent and annoying “ring” developed in my ear at or around that particular feedback frequency which, upon further analysis using a signal generator, is 4.68 Kilohertz.  That is right around a really hi C note on a keyboard.  It is a continuous tone running in my head and has been getting progressively louder over the years.

   That “ring” is called tinnitus and there is no cure for it at this time, but some modern techniques have been developed to help alleviate it in some people.

   I do wear hearing protection when using power tools and watch my levels when providing sound and paging systems.  All you young kids out there listening to loud music in your headphones or in your cars should heed this warning, too: Don’t expose yourself to obnoxiously loud music because your ears will begin to ring persistently, too.  But, I suspect as many young kids will listen to me as have actually read this far into this particular editorial.  In other words, likely none.



   Tinnitus is a symptom of a problem, but not the problem in and of itself.   While it is usually caused by overt hearing loss, it can also be caused by a number of factors unrelated to loud sounds.

   The most common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss associated with hearing damage caused by loud sounds, music, etc.  Those in the military who work around explosives and large guns, as well as those who work around loud jet engines in the aviation industry usually end up suffering from tinnitus.

   In the cochlea of the inner ear (that snail shell shaped section) there are thousands of microscopic hairs, each responding to a different frequency of the human hearing range.  These tiny, delicate hairs vibrate to the sound waves presented to them and trigger electrical impulses in the brain which are then interpreted as sound.  When one of those hairs gets damaged or broken, due to loud sounds, they will tend to leak random electrical impulses to the brain; or, they will send no signal at all, which causes the brain to create “phantom” signals at that frequency to compensate for what it is no longer receiving.  Either way, this manifests itself as a ringing in the ear(s).

   According to the Mayo Clinic, other less common problems that can cause tinnitus are: ear wax blockage, ear bone changes, abnormal inner ear fluid pressure, TMJ disorders of the jawbone, head or neck injuries, tumors, high blood pressure, malformation of capillaries, some antibiotics, cancer medications, quinine medications, certain antidepressants and large doses of aspirin.

   Men are more likely to experience tinnitus than women and smokers have a greater risk of developing it due to the stress they put on their circulatory system.

   If you just started experiencing a ringing in your ears, you should definitely get a doctor to check you out to rule out upper respiratory infection, or other potential circulatory issues.  Some will try to steer you to a LCSW for some mood altering psychotropic drugs so the ringing won’t “depress you” but this is about as effective at solving the problem as drinking a bottle of Jack Daniels, so I don’t recommend anti-depressants for hearing loss.  Plus, if you notice from the above Mayo Clinic list, some anti-depressants actually cause tinnitus.


Strategies for Alleviating Tinnitus

   About a year ago I started researching tinnitus as my ear ringing got progressively louder.  The level even increases and decreases with the ambient surrounding noise, so if I’m in a situation where there is loud noise, music, TV, etc. the ringing increases; when I’m in a quiet room, the ringing level appears to decrease.

   I found there are no drugs available to reduce tinnitus.  Some herbal remedies such as Ginko Biloba have been offered, but not enough controlled clinical trials have been conducted to confirm the results. 

   In my research I found out about a process called Neuromonics which has been found to be effective at reducing the ringing in the ears of many people suffering from the common form of hearing loss.

   I learned a lot about it then, but recently when I went back online to research it further I found the technical parameters have been all but expunged from the net and replaced with a bunch of for-profit entities selling their devices and treatments for many thousands of dollars.  None of them really come out and say how they actually work, because if they did most people could acquire a simple signal generator for a couple hundred dollars (or maybe there’s a smartphone ap out there) and create their own treatment frequencies. 

   Since the technical websites seem to be either eliminated or pushed hundreds of pages down in the search engine list, I’ll go from memory on what I learned—and I have a pretty good memory.



   From what I gathered in my research, Neuromonics was first discovered in the early 1900’s by experimentation with the sounds generated by pipe organs.  It was found that those who were exposed to a sustained note, equivalent to the ringing frequency in their ear, over a period of time reported a noticeable decrease in the ringing tone.

   This procedure was gradually developed over time to a point where the tones are created electronically and the tinnitus sufferer is exposed to alternating exposure levels of the ring frequency, tapered off slowly, then reintroduced after a brief period of silence.

   Today’s web searches only seem to indicate the technology as being developed in the 1990s in Australia and, without saying exactly what the process is, various companies are happy to provide you with a service to produce those frequencies in a portable MP3 playing device for anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.

  Since I had a general idea of the mechanics of Neuromonics (a steady tone at the frequency my ear rings at) and I have a couple of signal generators as part of my sound system equipment inventory, I decided to conduct my own trial on the Neuromonics process to see if there was anything to it.  Since I’m not in the business of selling these audio tones, I’ll give away the trade secret here!

   The first thing I did was access the signal generator feature on my Allen & Heath digital mixing console (I didn’t want to have to dig through a pile of storage boxes to get my older analog signal generator out!)

   As I swept the generator from the low to high frequencies, I noticed I had a lot of dropouts in my hearing I wasn’t even aware of.  I finally hit on the frequency of my tinnitus, which I previously mentioned as 4.68 KHz.  I then recorded a 60 second .wav file of the tone, slapped it into my Sony digital audio workstation and created an audio file that rapidly faded in to the tone, sustained it for 30 seconds, then gradually faded it out over a ten second time period.  I then looped a series of these tones together and tried listening for a period of a few minutes at a time.

   The information I learned a year ago was that it’s not necessary to listen to these tones directly in your ear.  Rather, it was said to be just as effective to place headphones over your temples, just in front of your ears and let the tone resonate through your skull.  This is the method I tried.

   At the first trial, which lasted for me about five minutes of those tones alternating on, fade out, off, back on again, it seemed to work.  The ringing in my ears at 4.68 KHz was noticeably decreased to the point that I was able to hear another, higher pitched, ring around 6 KHz that I was not aware of before.

   I repeated the simple procedure over several days—a few minutes a day—and was able to duplicate the results.  The primary ring frequency  would subside slightly then come back a few minutes to a few hours later.

   From what I understand about the process, the exposure time needs to be around an hour a day or more, cumulatively.  I haven’t got that aggressive in my trials yet, but I have learned enough to report that the process is legitimate, non-invasive (no surgery required), uses no drugs and does appear to work.

   Neuromonics does not work for everybody, but can have up to 85% reduction of ringing noise in some people.  What the process is attempting to do is trick the brain’s auditory section into believing it is receiving the frequency that the inner ear is no longer transmitting to it and thus reducing the compensating frequency created by the brain internally.  It’s a sort of “brain reboot,” if you will.

   Instead of using just straight sine waves, other providers of this service will reproduce music with a “spike” in the frequency band that is affected so the user doesn’t have to listen to a series of boring straight tones.  I have the ability to do that with my parametric equalizers, but I have a newspaper to write, a website to maintain and firewood to cut and pile so I haven’t gotten around to testing that particular procedure, yet.

   I don’t want this editorial to be taken as an advertisement for my services, but if you know the frequency your ears are ringing at, and your doctor has ruled out all other causes not associated with inner ear hearing loss, I can produce a CD or .mp3 audio file for your specific frequencies and all you’d have to pay for is my time.  For those who don’t have the technical ability to produce a sound track themselves, contact me (contact info in the box on the bottom left side of this page) to see if it’s something I can do for you.


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