What Is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy?

Tinnitus is an auditory issue that, according to JAMA Neurology, affects 749 million people worldwide. Contrary to popular belief, however, tinnitus is not a condition itself but instead a symptom of something else, most often hearing loss.

profile of woman's ear with graphic of sound waves coming into ear depicting tinnitus retraining therapy

If you suffer from tinnitus but do not have such an underlying condition, one of the best available treatment options is tinnitus retraining therapy. Read on to learn what this type of therapy is like and what it can offer you.

An Overview of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: How It Works

Tinnitus rehab therapy, also referred to as tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT), is a treatment option for those suffering from moderate to severe tinnitus that involves a combination of sound therapy and counseling to help train your ears to ignore the sounds of tinnitus, be them hissing, whistling, or ringing noises, or anything similar.

Tinnitus retraining therapy begins with counseling sessions, during which your audiologist will evaluate your symptoms and ask you questions about how your tinnitus affects your life. They will also show you how your auditory system works so that you have a better idea of what you may be dealing with. That knowledge can also help change the negative thinking patterns you may have developed regarding your tinnitus.

After counseling, you can begin sound therapy, which relies on a device behind your ear that plays white noise at a slightly lower volume than the internal sounds you hear. The device gives your brain more sounds to process, allowing it to turn its focus away from the tinnitus-induced noises. By reducing the contrast between internal tinnitus sounds and external ambient noise, you can help your brain get used to hearing both of them, a process called habituation.

Who Can Benefit from Tinnitus Rehab Therapy?

People with moderate to severe tinnitus can benefit from TRT, though it is best suited for adults with no significant hearing loss but tinnitus symptoms that present as consistent, high-pitched noises. It is also a good option for people who do not have an underlying cause of tinnitus that would otherwise be easily treatable.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy vs. Masking

One of the alternative treatment options for tinnitus is masking, which involves exposing you to a sound that is loud enough to partially or completely cover the sound of tinnitus. Most of the time, a hearing aid can provide the masking sound. Other tinnitus masking devices play white noise, which can help if your symptoms keep you from falling asleep, and are most effective when the masking noise fits the tinnitus noise in pitch.

The problem with masking, however, is that it does not lend itself to habituation. You are not receiving the exposure to the tinnitus sounds that you need, so you cannot get used to hearing them in relation to external sounds. Once you remove the masking device, you will continue struggling with tinnitus. As such, in the long run, masking does not offer the long-term results you need that tinnitus retraining therapy can provide.

Find Relief from Tinnitus with Support from American Hearing and Balance

Tinnitus can make it difficult to work, enjoy your hobbies, hold conversations with loved ones, and even sleep. As such, it’s natural for the issue and its symptoms to cause stress and other issues throughout your life.

With that said, though, if you have tinnitus and have a hard time dealing with the ringing, buzzing, or hissing noises, it’s important to know that there is, indeed, help available. Tinnitus retraining therapy stands as one of the best treatment options because it helps your brain get used to the noises. That way, you can go about your daily life without requiring masking devices.

At American Hearing & Balance, we offer tinnitus treatment in Marina del Rey, Westchester, Westwood, Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Torrance, California. With a team of experts ready to help you, you can get the relief you need from frustrating tinnitus symptoms. Call us today to speak with one of our audiologists about all of the treatment options we can offer.

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