For those who suffer from tinnitus, looking for an easy fix is unfortunately very difficult. Currently there is no cure for tinnitus, which can leave sufferers desperate for relief. However, some have found that using “brown noise” can help mask tinnitus symptoms and provide relief from the constant ringing in the ears sensation.
Sound masking and sound therapy have been used for many years against tinnitus and has seen some important results.
Here is everything you need to know about brown noise and how to best use it against tinnitus.
What is brown noise?
Brown noise is similar to white noise, but a different frequency. White noise, which is a mix of all audible frequencies, gets filtered so the lower frequencies are more dominant in the sound overall to create brown noise. People with tinnitus have found that quiet environments mean their tinnitus sounds are far more noticable. By using brown noise, (or other colour noises) the individual can divert their attention away from tinnitus and almost “forget” that it’s there.
What’s the difference between the different colours of noise?
Different people find relief in different sounds, so it can be up to the individual to see what works best for them.
White noise is all audible frequencies, and is usually the most known type of ambient noise. All frequencies are equal in white noise, like a radio that has been tuned to an empty station.
Pink noise is white noise, but with reduced higher frequencies. Pink noise has been linked to the sounds of steady wind or rain and can sometimes be more soothing than white noise.
As mentioned above, brown noise is still white noise but with the higher frequencies reduced, even more so than pink noise. Brown noise is a bit rougher sounding than pink noise, and can be similar to that of a strong wind or river. Many people have claimed that sleeping with brown noise can greatly divert their attention away from the tinnitus sounds and distracting noises of nighttime in general.
Masking or sound enrichment for tinnitus relief?
Some believe that totally masking the sounds of tinnitus, whether it be with colour sound or music, can be harmful to the individual. If the tinnitus sufferer masks the tinnitus sounds completely, once the sound is stopped, the brain will go back to focusing on tinnitus and it may even sound louder than before.
When using sound therapy or colour noises, many people recommend playing the sounds slightly lower than the tinnitus. This can help support the brain to learn to ignore the noise itself, rather than “hiding” it from the brain entirely. It can also allow you to better hear external sounds during your day-to-day life, rather than being overwhelmed with the sound of colour noise.
Thankfully, you can use any type of sound enrichment during the day, for as long as required, as long as it is played slightly lower than the volume of the individual’s tinnitus. It’s recommended not to use music as sound therapy during sleep, but colour noises or nature sounds instead.
Where can I get brown noise for my tinnitus?
Buy Brown Noise Online
The British Tinnitus Association actually sells different noise CDs to help mask tinnitus, including brown noise, white noise and even pink noise. While it’s only £5 for a CD, there are a lot of free options on the internet instead.
Sound Dreamer on Amazon sells a 2 hour brown noise mp3 that can be purchased for $7.99
However, there are better and cheaper options online when it comes to brown noise.
Youtube is a fantastic option for finding brown noise sounds to listen to, without having to pay to buy a CD.
SleepDroid Studios has a 10 hour-long video of brown noise that you’re able to listen to whenever you have an internet connection. They also claim it can be helpful when studying, working or falling asleep.
The Youtube channel Saltillerus also has a brown noise video, this time at 60 minutes long.
Mind Amend has a 8 hour brown noise video on Youtube. They also sell the 8-hour track online for $3.95 USD.
Companies like Oasis provide great options for sound machines to help reduce the sounds of tinnitus. Some are small mobile devices with headphones that can be used throughout the day, or others are bedside machines that can play white noise during the night. Oasis even has small speakers that can be placed underneath the individual’s pillow to play colour noise or nature sounds during the night. No matter what, it’s important to find the right type of device that will fit your needs best.
Brown Noise Apps
Thankfully with the help of technology, you can even find brown noise generator apps that you can use on your phone and/or computer. Vázquez Software created an app that generates brown noise, pink noise and white noise. Users can even use a timer to set the time of the session or select infinite playback, while also controlling the volume.
Noisli is a website that allows you to click on various nature sounds, or mix them together to find the perfect noise. Perhaps you want to just listen to the sound of steady rain, or you can add in the sound of thunder as well.
Does brown noise work against tinnitus?
A recent study looked at the benefits of using different colour sounds in a noise generation for people with tinnitus.
They found that the “combined use of counselling and different colour sound generators is effective in reducing the discomfort caused by tinnitus in normal hearing patients.” It was also very beneficial to allow the patients to choose their preferred sound. This type of counselling and sound therapy system could help tailor tinnitus treatment to the individual patient. Results were more successful when the individual was able to choose the noise themselves. “Nature sounds” were not an option in the study, just different colour sounds.
However, it’s important to remember that these results are based on a relatively small number of subjects. More research and studies could be very helpful in this field for tinnitus sufferers.