Tinnitus Informational Links
American Tinnitus Association www.ata.org
Denver Tinnitus Support Group www.coloradotinnitus.org
Tinnitus Patient Management Options
Currently, there is no clinically proven cure for tinnitus; however, there are many options to manage tinnitus. The treatment of patients with tinnitus is most likely to succeed when a multidisciplinary approach is employed.
Listed below are a number of treatment options.
Hearing Aids & Tinnitus Instruments
It has been reported that almost 65% of people who have both hearing loss and tinnitus will notice a reduction of their tinnitus with the use of hearing aids. The theories of tinnitus reduction include masking or stimulating nerves that are not being used because of the hearing loss. Some types of hearing aids combine the use of amplification along with Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.
Habituation & Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a method developed to facilitate habituation to tinnitus. It combines sound enrichment therapy with directive counseling. Counseling and education serve to demystify tinnitus, providing the patient with an intellectual and emotional framework in which habituation can occur.
A trained professional counselor can be very helpful whenever the tinnitus becomes problematic. Counseling can be used alone or added to other management strategies. Counseling consists of gathering data through careful listening, making adjustments in one's strategies based on that knowledge, and conveying information.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
One type of counseling that may be successful in helping people cope with tinnitus is cognitive behavioral modification therapy. This approach can help individuals identify the way they react to their tinnitus and learn new responses, thereby minimizing the negative thoughts and behavior patterns that are associated with tinnitus.
Maskers & Home Masking Devices
Maskers are used to cover-up the tinnitus perception with a competitive signal that either partially or completely competes with or conceals the tinnitus. This can be achieved by a number of methods, ranging from environmental masking to ear-level worn sound generators. There are commercially available recordings of a wide range of sounds that can provide complete or partial masking. In addition to their masking effect, these sounds may assist in relaxation.
Self-help and Support/Education Groups
Some people find help, stay informed on the latest information, and share treatment experiences by talking to others with similar problems. These groups can be facilitated by an audiologist or a psychologist (to prevent misinformation from being conveyed) and may include lectures from a variety of related disciplines.
Stress can aggravate tinnitus, and tinnitus can be very stressful. There are many procedures that can be helpful in learning to manage stress. Biofeedback assisted relaxation is one technique that people can learn to control breathing, muscle tension and heart rate. Other methods of stress reduction include yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis, and exercise.
There is no evidence to support the effectiveness of alternative treatments such as acupuncture, homeopathy, and herbal remedies such as ginkgo biloba.
Protect Your Hearing
Loud noise exposure is the number one cause of tinnitus and continued loud noise exposure will exacerbate tinnitus. Protect your hearing by wearing hearing protection, reducing the noise level, and walking away from the loud noise. Consult your audiologist for more hearing protection recommendations.
Possible sources of tinnitus aggravation: salt, artificial sweeteners, sugar, alcohol, prescription or over-the-counter medications, tobacco, and caffeine. (Note: Do not stop taking medications without consulting your physician).