Can noise-cancelling headphones help tinnitus?

Can noise-canceling headphones help tinnitus? It’s a question that many individuals living with tinnitus have pondered. 

The constant ringing or buzzing in the ears can be not only distracting but also distressing. 

Tinnitus is a challenging condition, and those who experience it often seek relief from various sources. 

In this article, we will explore the potential benefits of noise-canceling headphones in managing tinnitus and delve into the science behind their use. 

If you or a loved one is grappling with tinnitus and seeking solutions, read on to discover how this modern technology may offer you a path to greater auditory comfort.

Read: Do noise-canceling headphones cause tinnitus?

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a condition characterized by the perception of sound in the ears when there is no external source of sound. 

Can noise-cancelling headphones help tinnitus?

It can be a result of various underlying factors, including exposure to loud noise, age-related hearing loss, or earwax blockage. 

Tinnitus can vary in intensity and frequency, and it affects millions of people worldwide.

What Are Noise-Cancelling Headphones?

Noise-cancelling headphones are specialized headphones designed to reduce or eliminate external sounds.

They achieve this through active noise control and passive noise isolation. 

These headphones are equipped with microphones that pick up external sounds and then generate sound waves to counteract and cancel out those unwanted noises.

Noise-canceling headphones operate by generating sound waves that are the exact opposite of the incoming noise. 

This effectively cancels out the sounds, creating a quieter environment for the listener. 

While they may not completely eliminate all sounds, they can significantly reduce the impact of environmental noises.

Can noise-cancelling headphones help tinnitus?

Noise-cancelling headphones can help alleviate tinnitus symptoms to some extent. 

By reducing external ambient noise, these headphones make the persistent ringing or buzzing sounds of tinnitus less intrusive, offering temporary relief and improved concentration. 

However, they don’t cure tinnitus; it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a comprehensive tinnitus management plan tailored to your specific needs.

Benefits of Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Tinnitus

1. Reducing Environmental Noise

One of the primary benefits of noise-canceling headphones for tinnitus sufferers is their ability to reduce environmental noise. 

By drowning out background sounds, these headphones can make tinnitus less noticeable, offering temporary relief and making it easier to focus and relax.

2. Stress Reduction

Tinnitus can cause significant stress and anxiety, especially when the sounds become overwhelming. 

Noise-canceling headphones can help reduce stress by creating a more peaceful auditory environment, allowing individuals to better cope with their tinnitus.

3. Improved Sleep

Many people with tinnitus struggle to sleep due to the constant noise in their ears. 

Noise-cancelling headphones can provide a quieter sleep environment, promoting better rest and overall well-being.

Read: Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Cause Headaches?

Considerations When Using Noise-Cancelling Headphones

While noise-cancelling headphones can be beneficial for tinnitus, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

Can noise-cancelling headphones help tinnitus?

1. Consultation with a Healthcare Professional

Before using noise-cancelling headphones for tinnitus relief, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. 

They can assess your specific tinnitus condition and recommend the best approach for managing your symptoms.

2. Volume Control

Listening to music or other content at excessively high volumes through noise-cancelling headphones can potentially worsen tinnitus.

It’s essential to control the volume and choose content that is relaxing and not too loud.

3. Comfort and Fit

Select noise-cancelling headphones that are comfortable to wear for extended periods. 

A proper fit is essential to ensure that the headphones effectively reduce external noise.

What Are the Recommended Volume Levels for Safe Listening?

When adjusting the volume on your headphones, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential risks. Exceeding 115dB(SPL), equivalent to the noise level at a rock concert, can lead to hearing loss in just minutes. 

To protect your hearing and prevent tinnitus, it’s essential to limit both the volume and the duration of your listening sessions.

For adults, a safe volume typically falls below 80dB(SPL). 

However, it’s still advisable to take regular breaks to rest your ears. 

It’s worth noting that exposure to sounds at 89dB(SPL) or higher for more than five hours can result in permanent noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). 

When it comes to children, ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) recommends not exceeding 75dB(SPL). 

Generally, it’s wise to restrict your daily listening time to no more than one hour.

Read: Do headphones cause ear infections?

How Can You Ensure Safe Listening Volumes?

A general guideline for safe listening is to maintain the volume at or below 70% when using over-ear headphones. 

For in-ear headphones, often referred to as earbuds, it’s recommended to keep the volume around 60%.

Additionally, you can utilize mobile apps or adjust your phone settings to set a maximum volume limit.

If you’re in the market for new headphones, consider purchasing volume-limited headphones. 

These headphones typically have a maximum output of around 85dB(SPL), providing an added layer of protection for your hearing.

FAQs: Can noise-cancelling headphones help tinnitus?

What kind of headphones are best for tinnitus?

The best headphones for tinnitus are typically noise-cancelling headphones. 

These headphones can help reduce the impact of external sounds, making tinnitus less noticeable.

However, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine which specific type of headphones would be most suitable for your tinnitus condition.

Can sound cancel out tinnitus?

While noise-cancelling headphones can help mask tinnitus by reducing external noise, they don’t completely cancel out tinnitus itself. 

Tinnitus is often a persistent condition, and its sounds originate within the ears or the brain. The goal is to make tinnitus less bothersome, rather than eliminate it entirely.

Will tinnitus go away if I stop using headphones?

Tinnitus doesn’t typically go away on its own just by stopping headphone use. 

Tinnitus can have various underlying causes, and it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and to explore suitable treatment options. 

Reducing headphone use may help prevent further damage to your hearing but won’t necessarily cure tinnitus.

What is the simple trick to stop tinnitus?

There is no single “trick” to stop tinnitus, as it varies from person to person. 

Managing tinnitus often involves a combination of strategies, which may include using noise-canceling headphones, sound therapy, relaxation techniques, and consulting with a healthcare professional. 

It’s important to find the approach that works best for your specific tinnitus condition.


In conclusion, the question of whether noise-canceling headphones can help tinnitus is a complex one. 

While these headphones can provide relief for some individuals by reducing external sounds that may exacerbate tinnitus, they are not a universal solution. 

Tinnitus is a condition with various underlying causes, and what works for one person may not work for another.

While noise-canceling headphones may be a part of the solution for some, they should be used in conjunction with other therapies and strategies recommended by a medical expert. 

So, can noise-canceling headphones help tinnitus? They can be a helpful tool, but it’s crucial to approach tinnitus management comprehensively and seek professional guidance for the best results.

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