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Patulous eustachian tube noise attenuator

Attenuate internally-generated noise of breathing with special hearing aid.
  [vote for,

This falls into the category of "orphan" medical conditions: one so rare, it's probably not worth any manufacturer's time to develop a solution.

A patulous eustachian tube is one that does not close properly. As a result, sufferers hear a roaring noise with every breath, driving them absolutely nuts. Some people undergo surgery, which sometimes helps but often not. No good solution exists.

If a hearing aid were to sense eardrum movement by light beam (for instance, time-of-flight of a light pulse or modulation of an interference pattern from coherent-light LEDs), its audio transducer could generate a counter pressure wave to stabilize the eardrum. (There would be some phase lag due to the time-of-flight of the pressure wave from hearing aid to eardrum, which would reduce the device's effectiveness at high frequencies -- wavelengths approximately 2x the distance from transducer to eardrum. I think. This is the HALF-bakery, right?)

A microphone on the outside of the hearing aid would pick up outside audio and transmit it through, using the same audio transducer. The signal from the inside would be subtracted from that audio, with the result being hearing free of internally generated noise.

ideaphoric, Apr 12 2006

A tale of patulousness http://www.doctorhoffman.com/patul.htm
[bungston, Apr 12 2006]


       I can open and close my eustachian tube (so thats what it's called!) by clenching certain muscles in my ear. Can anyone else do that, or am I wierd? It's a useful way to clear/pop your ears, especailly when one goes swimming. It makes some sort of click-pop noise when I do it.
DesertFox, Apr 12 2006

       //Can anyone else do that, or am I wierd?//   

       Those are not mutually exclusive.   

       I can do the same. It's great for diving - never a problem equalizing.
Shz, Apr 12 2006

       An interesting condition. I had never heard of it. The idea seems reasonable but I am not sure that the "popping" described in the link is all from breathng sounds.   

       Consider Botox - injections permanently paralyze the muscle injected. I wonder if tetanus toxin could be used to permanently contract a flaccid muscle like that surrounding the ET?
bungston, Apr 12 2006

       I'm able to pop my ears at will, especially my left one, but I also need to exhale to keep it open. It doesn't always work to equalize pressure, though.
discontinuuity, Apr 12 2006


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