August 29, 2011 began as a typical work day. As I drove to work, I suddenly began to hear tinnitus in my left ear. Over the years I would occasionally hear noise in my ears, but it would only last a few seconds and then would disappear. This time the noise did not disappear. It was similar to the sound cicadas make and I did not find it particularly bothersome, just somewhat distracting. Over the following months, the tinnitus remained and would occasionally fluctuate, but was always there. I also noticed that the left ear was more sensitive to loud sounds.
About a year and a half later, the sound in my ear changed to a very high pitched screaming tone around 6000Hz. Sometimes the sound becomes overwhelmingly loud, especially after I have been in a noisy situation. I also noticed that as my stress level went up, the loudness of the noise would go up. I decided to experiment with tinnitus masking devices.
At this time, I have tried three different hearing aid manufacturer’s masking devices. One produced a chime like tone series that I found to be very annoying and I felt that it would actually increase my stress level, resulting in louder tinnitus. The second device was not bothersome or uncomfortable; I just did not find it to be particularly soothing. The Starkey Xino tinnitus masker produced a masking sound that I found would cover or mask the sound as well as be soothing or calming. It is a sound that ebbs and flows, similar to the sound of waves crashing on the beach.
After using the Starkey Xino tinnitus device for approximately 45 days, I decided to stop wearing it as my tinnitus was much more tolerable. Within two weeks of not using the Starkey tinnitus masker, my tinnitus had increased to an overwhelming level again. I have decided to wear the Xino on an as needed basis. I did find during my trial that I was able to sometime not use the Xino on weekend days.