It is important to understand that everyone’s experience with tinnitus will vary. How the tinnitus impacts a person is very individualized. Habituation, or some form of habituation, is a very common theme in most tinnitus treatment programs. Habituation programs, like Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and Progressive Tinnitus Management (PTM), will use a combination of sound therapy and counseling/education. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will focus on how you are reacting to your tinnitus. The goal of CBT is not to eliminate the tinnitus, but to reduce your reactions to the tinnitus.
A wonderful resource is the virtual CBT course, created by Dr. Hashir Aazh.
When looking to manage your tinnitus, you will need to consider many elements, including (but not limited to): sound therapy/enrichment, sleep hygiene, stress management, mindfulness and others.
Also consider your hearing health. When a hearing loss goes untreated, you are more likely to focus on your tinnitus. When appropriate, hearing aids can be helpful for those with hearing loss.
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What can you do right now?
Create a daily routine that will include activities to help reduce your stress. The goal is to relax/calm your mind and body. Try deep breathing exercises, yoga or guided meditation for example. Try out a few different activities to find the ones that work best for you and make them a daily habit.
Tinnitus tends to be more bothersome in quiet environments (reading or trying to fall asleep). Sounds can be used to distract your brain so it doesn’t focus on the tinnitus or to relax the mind and body. You could listen to the TV, radio, podcasts, etc… to keep your brain distracted. You could also listen to nature sounds or the sound of waves crashing on the shore.
This has shown to help relax people and reduce stress.
Improve Your Overall Health
A healthy body will be better equpped to heal and recover than an unhealthy one. Improving your health includes getting adequate sleep, staying hydrated, eating lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Try to reduce the amount of processed and fried foods you consume.
What to Expect
A true tinnitus consultation from our office will be about 90 minutes long and will contain a number of procedures.
Tests and Procedures for evaluating tinnitus may include:
Hearing Health History
Understanding your medical history is important due to the many possible causes of tinnitus. You will be asked about any diseases, medical diagnosis, medications you take, surgeries or hospitalizations you have had in your lifetime. In addition, everyone’s experience with tinnitus is different. The hearing health history will allow you to describe how tinnitus is impacting your life and when it is most bothersome.
An otoscope will be used to check for obstructions (like earwax) or other foreign bodies that can cause or make tinnitus worse.
The ear is made of three parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The Hearing Test is actually a battery of tests to assess each part of the ear and look for possible causes of tinnitus.
- Pure-tone testing is what most people are familiar with. You will hear a tone or beep and need to raise your hand (or push a button) when you hear the beep.
- Speech testing requires you to repeat words that you hear.
- Tinnitus pitch and loudness matching allows the examiner to better understand what your tinnitus sounds like to you.
Depending on these results, further testing with Otoacoustic Emissions or Acoustic Reflex Testing/Decay might be needed.
This tends to be the largest part of the tinnitus consultation. In this section, you will be educated on how our brain subconsciously reacts to tinnitus, why tinnitus is bothersome for some people but not for all, and what you can do to reduce the impact tinnitus is having on your life.
This is a comprehensive appointment that takes full-body wellness into consideration when understanding and treating your tinnitus. At the end of the appointment, you will get to take home all of the results and resources and will be scheduled for a follow-up telephone consult that is included with the consultation.
What Treatments Won’t Work
There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and unfortunately there are unscrupulous companies that will take advantage of someone who is desperate for a cure. It is important to do your research and know the truth about any treatment you are considering for any health-related issue. Think of it this way, if there was truly a cure – wouldn’t everyone be using it? Wouldn’t it be well known and documented?
Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation out there and many patients come to us stating they want to mask (or cover up) their tinnitus. This is highly discouraged. While masking can provide relief in the short term, masking your tinnitus consistently will make your tinnitus worse in the long term. If your brain does not perceive the tinnitus (because it is being masked), you will become dependent on the masking noise. When you remove the masking noise, your tinnitus will seem louder than it was when you first started.
There is not a single drug that will cure tinnitus. There are some anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs that have been shown to relax a person. When we are more relaxed, our blood pressure decreases and our tinnitus can improve.
Quietus, Lip flavonoid, Silence Solution, The Calmer, etc… have zero evidence-based research to support their claims. Any improvement is typically short lived because it was a placebo effect to begin with.