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Tinnitus Therapy Tools and Techniques You Can Start Using Today

Whether you just started experiencing tinnitus or you’ve had it for many years, you are probably looking for ways to help make your tinnitus go away. Well, keep reading because we will run through some science-based tinnitus therapy tools and techniques that you can start using right now to support tinnitus habituation. We will also cover common questions asked by patients about the habituation process.

Before diving in, it’s important to consider that our current medical system is not designed to offer comprehensive care for tinnitus patients, which is one of the core factors that led to the creation of Treble Health. Much of the traditional medical community overlooks the lived-in experiences of tinnitus patients, which can often amplify the despair felt by patients grappling with the onset of tinnitus. The best solution available to us is to seek education, build community, and find support from trained audiologists and therapists. 

Dr. Ben Thompson discusses tinnitus therapy tools and techniques that patients can start using today

Tinnitus Therapy Tool #1: One-on-One Coaching 

One-on-one coaching from a tinnitus audiologist will set you up for habituation, which is retraining the brain to “defocus” on the tinnitus. It relies on neuroplasticity, changing the way tinnitus is operating in the brain. Everyone is capable of natural habituation, as the brain naturally wants to get better and react less to tinnitus over time. By focusing on some of the emotional and psychological fundamentals you would get from one-on-one coaching, you can speed up this process. Audiology studies have also shown that tinnitus volume—as measured in the brain’s auditory cortex—never changes significantly. Rather, what changes during the habituation process is our mental and emotional response to tinnitus.

Tinnitus Therapy Tool #2: Sound Therapy

One foundational therapeutic technique is sound therapy. Sound therapy involves filling your environment with sounds like white noise or water in order to provide your brain another auditory stimulus on which to focus on. There are many modes of sound therapy available to patients. One of the simplest and cheapest is a basic speaker (running as little as $50 from manufacturers like Sound Oasis) programmed with white noise, pink noise, and natural sounds. Significantly more effective alternatives include tinnitus maskers, or hearing aids specifically programmed as a part of your sound therapy treatment program. 

Tinnitus Therapy Tool #3: Meditation

Another foundational therapeutic technique is meditation. Meditation typically involves observing one’s thoughts—both positive and negative—with equanimity, and thus working to create a sense of space in one’s mind so as to not become a victim to negative thought patterns. Meditation frequently takes the form of structured breathing, and there are a variety of research-backed apps available to help beginners develop a sustainable habit. Meditation is a proactive technique that can be used to calm the limbic system’s response to tinnitus, thereby easing the loudness or intensity of tinnitus. 

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy vs Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Some patients often ask about the difference between CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy), and whether they should prioritize one over the other. The consensus among Treble Health’s audiologists is that patients should prioritize these two aspects equally. An audiologist would never be able to provide the mental counseling that a psychologist or therapist would be able to provide, and conversely, a psychologist or therapist would never be able to recommend the appropriate sound therapy and hearing aids that an audiologist would be able to.

What to Expect from Tinnitus Therapy

Some patients on their habituation journey also ask about perception of sound, and whether they should still be hearing their tinnitus at the end of their treatment protocol. While the perceived volume of tinnitus will certainly decrease, it’s important to remember that the goal of habituation is not to completely eliminate one’s tinnitus—which in most cases isn’t even possible—but rather to have the brain regard it as just another neutral stimulus, similar to how the brain regards the breath. Awareness of tinnitus is perfectly okay; it’s the brain’s negative reactions to it that we’re endeavoring to change through various therapeutic protocols. While we are all fully habituated to the sound and sensation of our own breathing, it’s still always there. And this is ultimately the endpoint we’re trying to reach with tinnitus habituation.

What is Successful Tinnitus Habituation?

When it comes to embarking on your tinnitus habituation journey, it’s essential to manage expectations. For many patients, getting tinnitus perception down to 20% or less of one’s waking life is often considered a win. Even with a program of induced habituation, where you are actively working with an audiologist and/or therapist across various sound therapy and mental techniques, it may still take over a year to get your tinnitus volume down to a level where you deem it manageable. Nonetheless, this kind of targeted habituation approach is much more effective than a more scattered approach, where you might occasionally dabble in different tools and techniques but never end up fully committing.

Ultimately, it’s best to focus on macro changes across one’s habituation journey. While you may still encounter brief spikes, these micro fluctuations aren’t indicative of any failures to habituate. These fluctuations are experienced by almost all patients—even those who have successfully habituated. Tinnitus can often be a barometer of our overall wellness, so whenever you encounter a spike it’s helpful to turn back to some of the tools and techniques mentioned above and to work towards cultivating a level of wellness that will support you on your habituation journey.

What To Do Next For Tinnitus

At Treble Health, we know the importance of having a comprehensive approach to tinnitus management. That includes neuroplasticity, sound therapy, and proper medical tests. We put together a consumer guide to help you master tinnitus management so you can improve tinnitus once and for all. Click here to get the free Tinnitus Guide: 2022 Edition

Want to speak with an expert audiologist about your options for tinnitus treatment instead? At the tap of a finger, you can schedule a free Treble Health Tinnitus Consultation today! You’ll be connected with a real audiologist, not a salesperson, and there is no obligation or commitment.

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