Tinnitus is characterized as a constant tone or ringing in the ears. Most cases of tinnitus are inaudible to anyone but the person suffering from it, and often the sound goes away after a day or two. Unfortunately, not every case of tinnitus is so temporary.

I spent years working in radio. This meant having giant headphones on my head cranked up high for hours per day, listening to booming voices and blaring music. I didn’t notice what started as a quiet tone and is now a constant reminder of my career choice.

Sadly, there really haven’t been any breakthrough advances that explain the cause of many cases of tinnitus, or a cure for its onset. For now, the best many sufferers can do is mask it with other sounds.

I’m blessed that it isn’t too loud, but it is quite noticeable in a quiet environment. The first few seconds I put on a set of headphones or lay my head down to sleep, it’s loud and clear. It isn’t until I employ one of the methods listed below that the tone vanishes and I forget that it’s even there.

Sound Machine

The sound of thunder, rain, or rushing water can be soothing. When you’re sleeping, that white noise can make a big difference on your overall comfort levels. When the room is totally silent, every little sound has a chance of waking you up. On the other hand, when noise is aplenty, you stand a greater chance of having a restful night’s sleep.

Sound machines often serve a double purpose as an alarm clock and AM/FM radio. The sound quality may not always be optimal, but the improvement one can make on your rest makes it well worth the investment.

A sound machine can be replaced by a smartphone plugged into speakers or set on a dock. As long as you’re charging it, the power should last throughout the night.


During the day, I try to keep some audio running in the background. A lack of audio brings on that familiar tone, so Pandora provides much of the masking sound I need to get my mind off of it and onto work.

If randomly selected music isn’t your cup of tea, you can try Rhapsody or Spotify.

Having a radio or television playing in the background can help as well. As long as it breaks the silence enough to drown out the ringing in your ears, it’ll make a difference.

ATA Sound Mixer

The American Tinnitus Association is a group formed to help tinnitus sufferers lead normal lives. In addition to providing assistance and information, it also has a very handy white noise sound mixer on its website. This mixer, which includes a number of high-quality sounds specially designed to help mask the symptoms of tinnitus, is available for free. You can mix your own custom masking soundtrack and download it to play on your audio player or play sounds directly from the site. Either way, it has made a world of difference for me.

Do you suffer from tinnitus? What have you found to help mask those annoying sounds?