Today, many effective treatment options are available for tinnitus. Because tinnitus is so individual, you should work with your audiologist or physician to determine the best management option for you.
Before you begin a tinnitus consultation at Associated Audiologists, we ask that you undergo a diagnostic hearing evaluation, or ask that you bring the results of a hearing evaluation performed within the last six months to your appointment. Once you have completed a hearing evaluation, we will schedule an initial tinnitus consultation. You will receive a tinnitus history form and questionnaire prior to your appointment, which we will review to learn more about your lifestyle and your concerns. We also may demonstrate various sound therapy options at your consultation and perform a tinnitus assessment to determine the pitch and loudness of your tinnitus.
In addition to completing your new patient forms (see Registration Forms), when you come in for your tinnitus evaluation, be sure to bring a comprehensive list of your medications and dosages with you. Important: Do not discontinue or change your medication without first consulting your prescribing physician.
The next step in the evaluation process is the tinnitus assessment. This assessment may be performed at the same visit as your consultation. This is when we perform tinnitus pitch and loudness matching, as well as evaluate your minimum masking level.
The primary form of tinnitus management offered by Associated Audiologists is the use of sound therapy in a structured and supervised program. Sound therapy promotes habituation (desensitization) to tinnitus and sound sensitivity problems.
For many patients, the initiation of sound therapy quickly brings relief from symptoms. With continued use, sound therapy can ultimately reduce the perception of tinnitus and restore normal sound perception. There are many types of sound therapy available for management of tinnitus and sound sensitivity. During your initial consultation, we will discuss these with you and recommend the type most appropriate for your situation.
When hearing loss is present, the majority of patients experience relief from tinnitus when using hearing aids. The relief experienced through hearing aid use is due to improved communication ability, which can decrease stress and enable patients to be more engaged in their environments, thereby lessening the effect of the tinnitus. Hearing aids also result in increased nerve activity/stimulation, which may help suppress or mask the tinnitus.
When hearing aids alone do not bring sufficient relief, the use of combination devices may be recommended. These devices provide amplification and incorporate a sound generator. The sound generator plays soothing sounds to reduce the perception of tinnitus and provide relief. Many combination devices are available, including some that can sound like a soothing “ocean wave” and the Widex ZEN relaxation program that plays random, chime-like, and relaxing tones.
This treatment program involves wearing either the Oasis or Sanctuary device, and participating in follow-up appointments over a six-to-12-month period. Both devices are designed to deliver relief while listening to soothing and relaxing music. The Oasis is a customized sound therapy device, designed for more severe tinnitus sufferers and programmed for an individual’s hearing and tinnitus profile. The Sanctuary is intended for mild tinnitus disturbance and may require fewer in-clinic follow-up appointments. The most appropriate device and treatment plan will be recommended during your initial consultation.
The Serenade is a simple, customizable sound therapy device, consisting of a handheld device to generate sound therapy and earphones. Three different sounds (broadband noise, narrowband noise and S-Tones™) are available to create the most effective treatment for each patient. Serenade may provide long-term relief when used as a part of a tinnitus management program.
Other options for sound therapy may be self-directed and can include devices such as music players, table-top sound generators, and other masking devices. Lifestyle changes will also be discussed and recommended during your consult and follow-up appointments. These may include limiting noise exposure, use of hearing protection, incorporation of stress management and relaxation strategies, and a review of how current diet and medications may be affecting your tinnitus.