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White noise is thought to work for a variety of hearing loss needs - and sufferers are only just beginning to find out about its possible benefits.

Using white noise can help improve hearing quality and range, mainly by blocking or muffling the noise of the outside world. What is not clear, however, is whether this is a genuine solution beneficial to all or a fad with only limited applicability in treating hearing impairment as a whole.

Boots Hearingcare takes a look at the potential of white noise when it comes to managing your hearing health…

What is white noise?

TV static, the sound of rainfall, crashing ocean waves - many people give these as examples of white noise. However, there’s a bit more to it than that.

Put simply, white noise is a consistent sound containing every frequency the human ear can detect; this includes both high and low pitches. As such, it helps block out unwanted sounds.

What are the benefits of white noise?

White noise doesn’t just drown out other noises; it can help with more aspects of your life than you may realise, so it’s important to be aware of this.

In addition to improving hearing health, some additional benefits of white noise include:
  • Steadying your surroundings: White noise helps balance out sounds from the surrounding environment, which leads to a calmer, more peaceful atmosphere.
  • Helping babies sleep: Apparently the sound of white noise is comparable to the blood flow of a mother’s womb, making it great for babies who have trouble falling asleep.
  • Relaxing: White noise itself can be very soothing, and many people use it to calm themselves down after a stressful day.
  • Enhancing your focus: The presence of white noise has also been shown to keep people focused and engaged during key tasks, be it homework, office work, hobby work, etc.
  • Maintaining relationship happiness: If your partner snores or emits other loud noises that make sleeping difficult, consider a white noise machine or something similar to mask the sound and avoid arguments.
If you think your hearing could benefit from white noise in any way, then contact a doctor or audiologist immediately.

How does white noise work?

White noise is believed to help balance hearing by effectively reprogramming the way we experience sounds. Given that there are so many noises around us, it’s understandable how our hearing can easily get muddled. Which is where white noise comes in.

The following describes the process of how white noise helps improve overall hearing quality:
  • As white noise is effectively a signal containing equal frequencies, this creates something of a sonic blur
  • With the different frequencies inseparable, auditory nerves are less excitable
  • Your auditory nerves unstimulated, you should begin to find other noises clearer and easier to perceive
Sufferers of tinnitus sometimes use white noise to accustom themselves to the constant ringing in their ears. If you feel like this is something you could benefit from, speak to your GP or a hearing specialist for further information and advice.

Listening to white noise

Using white noise should be done carefully and not in haste to achieve results. Some people take measures like leaving the TV on an untuned channel just so they can get white noise, although this could inadvertently lead to long-term eye damage - due to the screen light being continually distributed around the room.

Instead, a white noise machine or app with a sleep mask will likely offer the most benefit. This way you don’t need to worry about any unpleasant, unexpected side effects, and can focus purely on the comfort white noise brings.

If you want more guidance about how to incorporate white noise into your life, talk to your doctor or a hearing professional about the best course of action for your case.

Is white noise bad for babies?

Because of its benefits for adult hearing health, many parents look to white noise as a tempting alternative for easing babies - whether it’s to sleep or while out and about.

This advice may seem logical, but it can be dangerous. Too high a white noise level above safe decibels has the potential to cause harm, inflicting more damage on babies’ ears than if they had not been exposed at all.

It’s important white noise stays at a safe volume for babies as well as adults. Keep sound levels to that of a soft shower - around 65 dB. If you have any doubts about whether white noise might affect your baby’s delicate ears, contact their pediatrician for further guidance.
If white noise isn't helping you with your auditory complaints, don’t suffer in silence. Visit your GP or an audiologist who specialises in hearing for advice and possible treatment options.

White noise not helping with your hearing troubles? Book an appointment with Boots Hearingcare to get to the root of the problem…