It is important to remember that tinnitus is a symptom and not a disease. Anyone experiencing tinnitus should have a complete hearing evaluation by a qualified audiologist as soon as symptoms appear and do not subside.
Patients with tinnitus are often incorrectly told that there is no medical cure or treatment for their condition. Although there may be no cure for the tinnitus, it can often be successfully managed.
Video: Tinnitus Treatment In 4 Easy Steps
Step 1: Tinnitus Assessment
The initial hearing evaluation is directed toward looking for a medically treatable cause of the tinnitus as the tinnitus may be a symptom of a more serious disorder. A referral to an otolaryngologist or your family doctor for further testing may be recommended if a medical evaluation is warranted.
Step 2: Hearing Test
A hearing test helps to rule out certain disorders and determines the treatment necessary.
Step 3: Fitting of Treatment Solution
A sound stimulus is programmed into a tinnitus treatment solution (looks identical to a hearing aid) that may include a hearing component if hearing loss was diagnosed in the hearing test.
Step 4: Fine Tuning
The stimulus sound is further customized. Using Soundpoint technology the user can actually help fine tune their settings by simply pointing on a tablet to the levels that provide the best relief.
Tinnitus Symptoms and Treatments Are Unique to the Individual
No two people suffer from exactly the same tinnitus symptoms. For a treatment to be successful it must be flexible and easily customizable for the individuals unique treatment needs.
Video: Starkey Multiflex Tinnitus Technology is Fully Customizable
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“Un-Learning” Tinnitus De-Tuning Tinnitus
Over time, a tinnitus sufferer’s brain has “learned” a unique pattern of sounds created by the auditory cortex. To provide relief it is necessary to “teach” the brain to de-tune the mechanism it used to create the tinnitus.
Auditory Habituation (TRT) – this is a type of therapy whereby a noise is presented via a “noise generator” into the ear(s) at a low enough level that the brain perceives both the noise generated and the tinnitus. Over 6-12 months, possibly more, the tinnitus sufferers brain may learn a pattern that de-tunes the unwanted tinnitus.
Amplification – if a hearing loss is present along with the tinnitus hearing aids can be very effective in relieving tinnitus.
Masking – the use of an external electronic device to produce sound which can cover up or mask the tinnitus can sometimes be very effective in providing relief from tinnitus. Occasionally the tinnitus can be inhibited for short and sometimes long periods of time when the masking sound is removed (residual inhibition). There are different types of maskers:
- Tinnitus masker – is an electronic device somewhat like a hearing aid which produces noise to help mask the tinnitus.
- Tinnitus instrument – a combined hearing aid and masker for people who have both a hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Commercial noise generators – various types of electronic devices which produce different forms of masking sounds to provide relief from tinnitus. These are especially useful at night time when trying to get to sleep. There are many systems on the market today that are made specifically for tinnitus sufferers.
Medications – there is no single medication that works on all tinnitus patients. Certain anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications have proven successful for a small percentage of tinnitus patients. Some patients have seen success using herbal medications such as ginkgo biloba.
Alternate approaches – some tinnitus patients have reported benefit from treatments such as hypnosis, acupuncture, chiropractic treatment, ear candling, and naturopathy. Education is important. Suffers of tinnitus are encouraged to speak about their condition to their audiologist.