Phonak’s Tinnitus Hearing Aid Solutions
Tinnitus, commonly referred to as “ringing in the ears,” is a fairly common condition which affects 10-15% of the US population. 80% of those individuals also suffer from hearing loss. These numbers have led many hearing aid manufacturers to develop tinnitus solutions that are incorporated into hearing aids. I have written about some of these products before, and you can read that post here: Best hearing aids for people with tinnitus.
One of the hearing aids that I didn’t mention in that post is the Phonak Audeo Q line of hearing aids. The Audeo Q line was released in the spring of 2013 and is one of Phonak’s most advanced hearing aids that also has built in features for tinnitus relief.
Phonak has taken a very comprehensive approach to their tinnitus solutions and has a few different ways that people can benefit from them. It should be stated right off the bat, that if you have tinnitus and hearing loss, you may not even need any of these solutions (aside from just wearing the aids themselves). Many people with both hearing loss and tinnitus report that just wearing hearing aids significantly reduces the effects of tinnitus, to the point where it is sometimes completely relieved.
However, if just wearing hearing aids is not enough relief, there are a few different variations of tinnitus stimuli that your provider can set these hearing aids to present. First, is what is referred to as “pink noise.” You may have heard of the term “white noise” before, and “pink noise” is just a less harsh type of noise and can be more relaxing. Many people have used pink noise for decades to help them relax and fall asleep- so pink noise is nothing new. When your Phonak Audeo Q hearing aids are first turned on and the tinnitus features are activated, the hearing aids are set to this pink noise by default. Technically speaking, the pink noise is presented at a volume that is just barely over your hearing thresholds. So if your audiogram shows scores of say, 55 dB at 1k, then the tinnitus stimuli will be set to play at 60 dB. The goal is to have the stimuli play at a level that is just barely louder than your tinnitus. For most people, this default setting is enough and they see significant tinnitus relief, and it has been my experience that most people think that the pink noise sounds the most natural.
However, there are a few other things these hearing aids are capable of. If the default settings are not enough, your hearing provider can activate what’s called the “noise generator” and target the stimuli to certain frequencies and adjust the gain of that stimuli. Being able to adjust the stimuli in this way gives your provider a lot more flexibility in tuning the hearing aids to your exact needs. So if for instance your tinnitus is particularly bad in the very high frequencies, your provider can specifically target those frequencies and apply more/less, or different types of stimuli to those frequencies for a more customized solution.
With both of the above features, you have full control as a user to adjust the stimuli as-needed, via a remote control, the ComPilot, or an on-board user control on the hearing aid itself. This is important, because if you’re like most people your sensitivity to your tinnitus (or the intensity of it), will vary throughout the day. In addition, you can set up these hearing aids so you can have specific programs which are solely for helping reduce tinnitus, and other programs which don’t have any tinnitus-relief at all. For instance I had a client who never experienced tinnitus during the day, but at the end of the day when he got home from work his tinnitus would really start to bother him, so he would wear the hearing aids in just their regular amplification settings during the day, and then activate the tinnitus programs at night. So there is flexibility with these hearing aids to match your needs.
Lastly, these hearing aids can utilize a companion app for iPhone and Droid devices which you can download free. This app lets you select from Phonak’s library of soothing sounds and then play them into your headphones, through the phones speaker, or through your Phonak ComPilot. Many people who don’t even suffer from tinnitus use this app to help relieve stress and anxiety. In fact while writing this post I have had that app on and playing “chimes”. It’s a very peaceful sound which sort of reminds me of Widex’s Zen2Go hearing aid which produces a very similar chime sound.
The Audeo Q comes in 4 different technology levels, from Q30 (essential) to Q90 (advanced). Your price for these aids from a ZipHearing provider will range from around $1,400 each up to $2,400 each, which is much lower than traditional retail prices. Check out this Phonak Pricelist to see more details on the pricing, and as always, feel free to call the toll free number above if you have any questions and would like to speak to a licensed hearing provider, free.