How It Works, Alternatives, More

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Tinnitus occurs when you hear a persistent ringing or other sound in your ear that is not caused by an outside source. Some of the potential causes are hearing loss, a blockage in the ear canal, and certain medications.

Approximately 10 to 15 percent of adults suffer from tinnitus.

Tinnitus Rehabilitation Therapy (TRT) is a potential treatment option for moderate or severe tinnitus. It involves a combination of counseling and sound therapy to train your brain to ignore the sound in your ear.

Some studies have shown that TRT is an effective treatment for most people, but there is still little evidence that it is more effective than other treatments.

Read on to find out how TRT works, what to expect, and how effective it is.

Tinnitus can be barely noticeable or seriously affect your quality of life.

Some forms of tinnitus, such as when it is due to impaction of the ear or occurs as a side effect of medication, can be cured by cleaning the ears or stopping the medication. But most types of tinnitus caused by hearing loss can’t be cured, according to research 2019.

However, some medical treatments can help you manage your symptoms.

TRT, for example, is a promising treatment in which you undergo a combination of counseling and sound therapy to help you gradually get used to the sound of your tinnitus. Habituation is when you get used to a sound so that you no longer focus on it.

You often encounter an addiction in your daily life. For example, you may find a fan annoying when you first turn it on, but the sound becomes less noticeable after a while.

Tips

Before starting TRT, you will have an interview and medical examination with a doctor to assess your symptoms and your hearing status. You may need different treatment if a medication or an underlying medical condition is causing your symptoms.

After these exams, you are followed by a hearing specialist called an audiologist. The advice aims to change the way you perceive your tinnitus and begin the process of dwelling. Each session usually lasts around 1 to 2 hours.

During this phase, your advisor will review the results of your initial assessment. They will also teach you how your auditory system works to demystify the problem and change negative thought patterns regarding your tinnitus.

The counselor will also recommend strategies to help you begin the habituation process, focusing on changing your negative emotional reaction and oversensitivity to sound.

sound therapy

The sound therapy component of TRT uses sounds to mask your tinnitus. During this part of your therapy, you will wear a device behind your ear that plays masking or white noise with a slightly lower loudness than your perceived tinnitus.

The goal of sound therapy is to help your brain get used to the sound of tinnitus by decreasing the contrast between the tinnitus and the external sound.

It is important to note that insurance often does not cover these devices.

It takes 12 to 18 months for people to achieve habituation with TRT. The first improvements tend to appear after 3 months.

Over 100 studies have examined the effectiveness of TRT, and most have found significant improvements in approximately 80 percent of people.

Modifications and improvements have been developed over time, improving the effectiveness of TRT. Yet exactly how TRT improves tinnitus is still not fully understood.

Evidence remains inconclusive on whether TRT is superior to other treatments, according to research 2021.

The researchers noted that this uncertainty is due to a lack of randomized controls in the studies. They also noticed a significant placebo effect.

Additionally, tinnitus seems to decrease naturally over time in many people, even without treatment. And some people learn to adjust on their own, without structured therapy, or find their own ways to mask the sounds of tinnitus, such as using a sound machine or a fan while they sleep.

A study 2016 found no evidence of a difference between tinnitus masking, TRT, and tinnitus education and counseling in reducing tinnitus severity.

In a study 2019, researchers compared TRT to standard care advice to improve tinnitus-related quality of life. The researchers found that about half of the total population had a significant reduction in symptoms, but there was little difference between the two groups.

A Report on studies 2021 found that there was insufficient evidence to draw conclusions about the treatment of tinnitus in children due to a high risk of bias in the current studies.

TRT is considered a safe treatment that has no known side effects. You can share any concerns you may have with your treating physician or audiologist before starting treatment.

Tinnitus is very common. For some people, this can significantly affect their quality of life. If you suffer from tinnitus, especially if it affects you severely, you may choose to contact a doctor for evaluation and treatment.

It’s also a good idea to see your doctor if:

  • You hear a sound like a heartbeat.
  • Your tinnitus affects only one ear.
  • Tinnitus appears suddenly.
  • The sound of tinnitus is so disturbing that you cannot concentrate.
  • You also have dizziness, vertigo or hearing loss.

Tinnitus is not cured, but treatment can help you manage your symptoms. Some of the treatment options for the most common tinnitus.

Lifestyle changes

Making lifestyle changes can help manage your symptoms. Some changes you can make include:

Hearing aids

Tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss. A hearing aid can make external sounds louder and can potentially make tinnitus less noticeable. Additionally, many hearing aids have tinnitus masking programs.

Learn more about hearing aids for tinnitus.

Sound masking devices

Sound masking devices can emit white noise or sounds that muffle tinnitus. These devices can be played from a device directly in your ear, an external sound machine, or even your phone.

A small 2017 study found that broadband sounds, including white noise, were generally more effective than nature sounds at masking tinnitus.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) aims to identify negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors, and to change them.

Research from 2021 found that CBT does not reduce the subjective loudness of tinnitus, but can still increase the well-being of those affected.

Medications

Many medications have been studied to treat tinnitus, but none have been shown to work for all people.

Healthcare professionals can often prescribe antidepressants, but several randomized studies and a review of studies found they were not associated with an improved outlook for tinnitus. They can help people who also suffer from major depression or trouble sleeping.

Anticonvulsants have not always been shown to be effective, but they provide some relief for some people.

TRT is a promising form of tinnitus treatment that involves counseling and sound therapy to help reduce symptoms. Research suggests that TRT can cause significant improvement in around 80% of people, but there is still no significant evidence to show that it is more effective than other treatment options.

If you are seriously bothered by your tinnitus, it is a good idea to contact a doctor. Some types of tinnitus are incurable, but many people experience significant relief after undergoing treatment. A doctor can also help you find out if there is an underlying medical condition contributing to your tinnitus.

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