Tinnitus Therapy and Masking Devices
There are tools available that can assist patients in managing the intensity, prevalence and burden of their tinnitus; these should not be seen as cures since they do not repair or eliminate its signal in the brain.
Step one of treatment typically entails meeting with and receiving an evaluation by an otolaryngologist for an interview and medical examination, including hearing testing to detect any underlying conditions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Mental health professionals can teach coping techniques that will make tinnitus less disturbing. They may suggest cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has proven its worth in relieving tinnitus distress as well as associated conditions like depression or anxiety; however, this therapy will not actually alter its physical sound.
Counseling for tinnitus aims to lessen its effect on daily life by helping change how you perceive it and adapting your response accordingly. Therapists can teach techniques like biofeedback, hypnosis or yoga which may offer relief from this irritating noise.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) may also provide relief. TRT utilizes frequency-filtered music to lessen the intensity of tinnitus, making it an easy and affordable therapy that can be done from home without consulting with a doctor. Although TRT may only need to be applied temporarily, its results could ultimately help improve how you perceive and cope with it over time.
TRT works on the premise that tinnitus is caused by constricted blood vessels in your ears – a common source in older individuals. Warmth and filtered music provided through TRT help relax blood vessels to promote blood flow and decrease tinnitus symptoms; licensed hearing healthcare providers offer TRT.
Medication may help relieve your distress associated with tinnitus; however, it should never be considered a permanent solution and may even have side effects. Therefore, when seeking therapy for this condition it’s important to inform your physician of any medications taken as part of treatment plan.
Although some patients report complete relief from their tinnitus, most individuals find theirs easier to ignore over time and some even become accustomed to it. Tinnitus therapy will also enhance your quality of life by relieving stress and anxiety while simultaneously giving you the chance to enjoy nature sounds and social activities more readily.
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
TRT combines counseling and sound therapy to help you ignore your tinnitus. Through counseling sessions, you’ll learn to change your emotional response to its noise; sound therapy involves wearing a device producing masking sounds or white noise with an intensity slightly lower than that of your tinnitus; this allows the two sounds to blend and become neutral signals. It is imperative that only qualified professionals administer TRT.
TRT is founded on the idea that humans have the capacity to learn and adapt, providing an effective approach for managing the impact of tinnitus without cure. TRT requires 9-18 months of treatment in order to achieve habituation – meaning hearing tinnitus becomes part of one’s normal environment without being perceived or bothersome; still audible but less distracting than before.
TRT approaches aim at changing emotional, cognitive and behavioral components of the tinnitus experience by altering its emotional, cognitive and behavioral components as well as retraining limbic and autonomic nervous systems. Success lies in habituation techniques which retrain conditioned reflex arcs while shifting neuronal networks at subconscious auditory pathways – this in turn causes the tinnitus to become less bothersome over time and more of an background noise source.
This approach may not be available to everyone; to discuss what are your best options with an ear care specialist. There may also be techniques such as meditation, homeopathy, hypnosis and acupuncture which could reduce stress-related anxiety; all are designed to increase quality of life and lower overall stress levels.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, it’s important to seek assistance immediately. Seek assistance from friends or family members as well as mental health professionals as soon as possible; support groups are also available for people living with tinnitus. Also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1800273-8255; this service is free and confidential.
Masking devices can offer relief to some people suffering from tinnitus. Designed like hearing aids, these masking devices amplify ambient sounds around them to produce white noise or soothing music that helps cancel out their own tinnitus symptoms. Devices designed to mask tinnitus can be purchased commercially or from NHS services in the UK. A recent generation of masking devices can even match their frequency with that of tinnitus being covered up, making them suitable for home or on-the-go use. Tinnitus masking devices can be placed on a table or worn over the ear for easier sleep, concentration and daily activities. There are even combination devices that resemble regular hearing aids but offer both sound therapy and amplification features.
Studies show that tinnitus maskers and sound therapy may help to temporarily reduce or even completely silence tinnitus for some patients. Unfortunately, however, it cannot always be eliminated entirely, sometimes returning even when its source has been treated successfully; to ensure long-term relief it’s essential to develop effective coping strategies while seeking medical help for any underlying conditions that cause it.
Tinnitus treatment options may also include counseling techniques like CBT and ACT to assist in alleviating frustrations and stress that contribute to more noticeable tinnitus symptoms, as well as relaxation techniques that may decrease them by creating an increased sense of calm in a person.
If your tinnitus is unrelated to an underlying health condition, NYU Langone specialists can recommend treatment that will alleviate its symptoms and enhance quality of life. Reach out today and see how we can assist.
Some forms of tinnitus therapy are covered under your BCBS NC plan’s medical benefits, including maskers and retraining therapy (for details, check your member benefit booklet). Other tinnitus therapies – including aural rehabilitation and neurostimulation – are being researched at NYU Langone to offer potential solutions to this debilitating condition; more information regarding this and other tinnitus treatments can be found by visiting their Tinnitus Management Center at NYU Langone for details.
Sound therapy has long been employed to aid relaxation and emotional healing. Studies have also demonstrated its ability to boost immune function, lower blood pressure and alleviate stress. Sound therapy has long been used as an antidote for mental disorders like anxiety or depression as well as chronic fatigue or insomnia; now researchers are discovering other potential uses for music-based tinnitus treatments.
A sound therapist uses soothing music with rhythms and tones designed to match your tinnitus frequency to relax you, as well as leading you through breathing exercises and meditation techniques to help. Sessions may either involve sitting passively while listening to the music, or more active exercises like yoga or Tai chi; such sessions tend to take place one-on-one.
Habituation therapy uses neural plasticity – the brain’s ability to change how it perceives signals – which means the more you hear your tinnitus, the less bothersome it will become over time – similar to when hearing everyday sounds such as air conditioners, refrigerators or raindrops fall outside your windows. Although you should notice changes soon after beginning habituation treatment, full results could take as long as one year to appear.
Goal of this type of tinnitus treatment: replacing negative emotional reactions that you have towards tinnitus with positive ones. Furthermore, your therapist will teach you to control thoughts and behaviors which exacerbate it further – for instance, learning how to stop worrying about it altogether by instead engaging in other pursuits or by giving yourself distractions such as exercise.
If you suffer from tinnitus, be sure to speak to either your primary care doctor or an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat doctor) about finding the best therapy options available to you. They will be able to rule out any medical condition or medication which could be contributing to it and refer you to an audiologist who specializes in managing it.