Tinnitus is an incredibly common condition that is often known as “ringing in the ears.” Near 20 million Americans experience chronic tinnitus, according to the American Tinnitus Association, and about 2 million of these people experience especially extreme and debilitating cases.
While there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are various treatment options that can be used to reach a state of comfort and relief. Tinnitus sound therapy is one of the most established and widely used treatment methods.
How does tinnitus sound therapy work?
Tinnitus sound therapy retrains how the brain interprets tinnitus through the process of habituation. After using this treatment option, people’s brains begin to reclassify the unwanted sounds as something neutral rather than the harsh and annoying sound they normally consider it to be.
While it may sound difficult, sound therapy helps patients essentially forget about the sound that is bothering them. This is actually a natural process that brains frequently take part in.
There are various methods and types of sounds that can help contribute to the success of tinnitus sound therapy. An audiologist trained in tinnitus therapy can explore these different options with the patient.
A common way to begin sound therapy is to play a relaxing and neutral sound, such as white noise, instrumental music, or the sound of rain falling, and play this throughout the day as background noise.
How to begin tinnitus sound therapy
A simple way to kickstart the process of tinnitus sound therapy is to download a free tinnitus application on your phone or other electronic devices. Follow the instructions on the app and ensure that
Experts say consistency and frequency are two keys to the potential success of tinnitus sound therapy. Patients should play the neutral sound for at least four hours a day, as well as while they are sleeping, for this process to be successful.
Hearing aids & other tools
In addition to listening to neutral sounds, some patients may benefit from using hearing aids while taking part in tinnitus sound therapy. Hearing aids amplify external environmental noises, which give the nervous system more sounds to process.
This increase in auditory stimulus can reduce the perception of tinnitus. Therefore, hearing aids can help limit the ringing or other unnecessary sounds you may be hearing.
Many hearing aids even have a special technology known as tinnitus masking. Your audiologist can help program this technology to best meet your needs.
Tinnitus patients should keep in mind that tinnitus is often an early warning sign that they are experiencing hearing loss. The prompt treatment of this hearing loss by a professional can minimize the patient’s tinnitus.
Candidates for sound therapy
Nearly anyone who is bothered by their tinnitus may benefit from a form of sound therapy.
While tinnitus is often caused by hearing loss, other auditory and medical problems can also cause this. Obstructions in the middle ear, Meniere’s disease, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), head and neck trauma, clogged ears, autoimmune disorders, sinus pressure and barometric trauma, and other conditions can all result in tinnitus.
Finding a tinnitus specialist
The first step toward getting tinnitus sound therapy is finding a specialist who can help you along this process. Call your primary physician or ENT to see if there are any contributing medical conditions. Then, consult an audiologist who specializes in tinnitus retraining therapy.
Once you begin your tinnitus count therapy journey, stay committed to the process. Sound therapy is a progressive treatment, which requires significant time and effort to be successful, and it is most effective when paired with educational counseling.
Behavioral help for tinnitus
In addition to sound therapy, many people experiencing tinnitus find cognitive-behavioral therapy useful when managing tinnitus. Specifically, behavioral therapy can help patients cope with the emotional impact that tinnitus may have.
A review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology found cognitive-behavioral therapy especially useful, saying that “CBT treatment for tinnitus management is the most evidence-based treatment option so far.”
Everyone experiencing tinnitus has their own unique symptoms and issues, so patients hoping to manage their tinnitus should be open to trying a variety of therapies and other treatment options as advised by doctors and specialists.
It often takes two to three months of sound therapy before tinnitus patients notice any changes in this condition, and it may take up to a year for the tinnitus to no l