Today, many effective options are available to help tinnitus. Because tinnitus is so individual, you should work with your audiologist or physician to determine the best management option for you.
Tinnitus is most often related to a change in auditory function, so the first step in addressing your tinnitus is to undergo a comprehensive hearing evaluation. If you are new to our practice and have not been evaluated previously, these tests will be conducted at your initial appointment. If you have had a comprehensive hearing evaluation (or any other testing related to your tinnitus) within the last 6 months, you will be asked to obtain a copy of the results to bring to your consultation. You will receive a number of forms, including a general health history form, a tinnitus history form, and a tinnitus questionnaire to complete prior to your appointment, which will be used to learn more about your overall health and your experience with tinnitus. 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.
At your tinnitus consultation, we will review your history, your hearing evaluation results, and your questionnaire answers and score. We may complete a tinnitus psychoacoustic assessment to measure your tinnitus pitch, loudness, and minimum masking level. We will review our current understanding of tinnitus pathophysiology and make recommendations to address your unique concerns.
Sound Therapy for Tinnitus
The primary form of tinnitus management offered by Associated Audiologists is sound therapy in a structured and supervised program. Sound therapy promotes habituation to tinnitus.
For many patients, the initiation of sound therapy quickly brings relief from tinnitus. With continued use, sound therapy can reduce tinnitus awareness and disturbance. There are many sound therapy tools available for management of tinnitus. During your initial consultation, we will recommend the type most appropriate for you based on your audiometric profile and disturbance level.
Ear-Level Sound Generating Devices
These in-the-ear or behind-the-ear devices play interesting/soothing sounds to alter the perception of tinnitus, providing relief and facilitating habituation.
When hearing loss is present, the majority of patients experience relief from tinnitus when using hearing aids. The relief experienced through hearing aids is thought to be due to improved communication ability, which can decrease stress and enable patients to be more engaged in their environments, as well as through increased activity/stimulation in the auditory system, which may help reduce the perception of tinnitus. When hearing aids alone do not bring sufficient relief, the use of combination devices may be recommended. These devices provide amplification and incorporate sound generators, as described above.
This program involves wearing the Neuromonics processor, and participating in counseling visits over a six-to-12-month period. The processor delivers an acoustically modified musical stimulus that promotes relaxation and tinnitus habituation. There are three levels of Neuromonics designed for mild to moderate to severe tinnitus disturbance. The most appropriate device and management plan will be recommended during your initial consultation.
Other options for sound therapy may be self-directed and can include portable or stationary devices such as fans, music players, smartphones, sound pillows, table-top sound generators, etc.