How Do You Retrain Your Brain To Ignore Tinnitus?

How Do You Retrain Your Brain To Ignore Tinnitus?

Constant ringing, clicking, roaring, hissing, whooshing… At best, tinnitus is tough to live with. At worst, it can severely affect your mental health, increasing your risk of depression, anxiety, fatigue, memory problems, and even suicidal thoughts. 

While there is no surgery or medication to cure tinnitus, luckily there is evidence that shows that most patients can significantly reduce the perception of tinnitus using retraining techniques – i.e., training your brain to ignore the sounds in your ears. Read on to learn more about how tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) can help you find relief.

What Is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy?

Tinnitus retraining therapy, or TRT, is the process of teaching your brain how to cope with tinnitus at both a conscious and subconscious level. Although it is a long-term commitment requiring a significant amount of work and dedication to produce lasting results, it is one of the few tinnitus-centered approaches with a scientifically proven success rate of over 80%.

"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
"Treble Health helped me reduce my tinnitus by about 80%, and now I can live my life again!"
– Steve D.
Looking For Tinnitus Relief? Call Now To Schedule Your FREE Consultation With A Doctor!

TRT consists of two main components: directive counseling and sound therapy. Additionally, tracking your daily habits, such as your diet, sleep patterns, physical activity, and stress levels, is also an important part of TRT. 

How Does TRT Work?

The goal of TRT is to help you become gradually habituated to the sounds of your tinnitus. In psychology, habituation refers to the process of reducing behavioral (emotional) responses to a stimulus (a thing or event that prompts a reaction, in this case, tinnitus) after being repeatedly exposed to it. Becoming habituated to your tinnitus doesn’t mean that you won’t hear these potentially annoying sounds anymore, but rather that your brain will know how to ignore them so that they no longer interfere with your daily life. 

Let’s have a look at the two components of TRT:

Directive Counseling

TRT counseling sessions serve two primary purposes: the first is to provide individualized education about your tinnitus to help work through any negative perceptions or thought patterns you may have around the subject. Understanding tinnitus and how it interacts with your brain and other systems in your body has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety – two factors known for worsening tinnitus. The second objective is to teach you coping mechanisms, such as breathing exercises and mindfulness techniques, to help you focus less on your tinnitus and feel less burdened by your symptoms.

Sound Therapy

The sound therapy component of TRT involves using external sounds to “drown out” tinnitus. This can be achieved with wearable sound generators – sometimes known as tinnitus maskers – or household devices like electric fans, radio or TV static, white noise machines, etc. Sound therapy aims to help the brain get used to tinnitus by decreasing the contrast of tinnitus sounds against a quiet environment over time.

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Retraining Vs. Removing

So why retrain the brain to “tune out” tinnitus instead of removing its sounds altogether? The simple answer is that, to date, there are no peer-reviewed treatments or methods for eliminating tinnitus entirely. 

Tinnitus doesn’t have one single cause, nor does it occur in one specific way; anyone can develop it regardless of their age, gender, and ethnic background. There is also no way of directly measuring it in a person, meaning that doctors and researchers must rely on each patient’s unique verbal description of what they hear and how loud they hear it in order to make a diagnosis. This makes tinnitus a challenging condition to study and develop treatments for. 

Fortunately, TRT has been proven to be an effective method, with many patients reporting a significant reduction – and some days even total elimination – of tinnitus symptoms after a period of six to twelve months. TRT often does not “turn off” tinnitus completely, and it might take some time to get the results you’re looking for. But when you put in the time and effort, it can help you live a better, more productive life, even if the perception of tinnitus remains. John, one of our patients at Treble Health, shared an inspiring success story about his journey with tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT).

When Tinnitus Gets Worse

With tinnitus, some days you may barely hear any sounds at all, and other days the buzzing or ringing may become borderline unbearable. This is known as a tinnitus spike, and it happens when the sounds you are used to hearing change, suddenly becoming louder or changing in tone or pitch. It is not entirely clear why these spikes occur, but evidence suggests that certain internal and external factors seem to exacerbate the perception of tinnitus.  

Common triggers include:

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