Tinnitus is a very common problem that affects millions of people around the world. Tinnitus is auditory phantom perception, or an auditory sensation that is not related to the perception of external sound. When asked to describe their ear or head noise, many tinnitus patients will describe ringing, buzzing, humming, hissing, or sounds similar to escaping steam.
Approximately 44 million Americans experience some type of tinnitus. One out of 100 adults (that’s about 2.8 million) report that their tinnitus interferes with concentration, sleep, and quality of life. While tinnitus is frequently associated with different conditions – hearing loss, otosclerosis, ear infections, Meniere’s Disease, prescriptive and non-prescriptive drug use – noise exposure is the most common cause of tinnitus.
What treatment options are available?
While surgery and medical/prescriptive treatment for tinnitus is not recommended, many tinnitus patients report significant success with a combination of counseling, education, and sound treatment. Our specialists have been trained in a highly regarded approach to tinnitus management called TRT or Tinnitus ReTraining Therapy. TRT combines an initial evaluation, counseling and use of different devices to provide desensitization of tinnitus.
Tinnitus Evaluation and Treatment
The initial tinnitus evaluation is a comprehensive appointment designed for people who have already received a complete, ear, nose, and throat examination. The initial tinnitus evaluation consists of audiometric evaluation, counseling, and device fitting (if necessary). Total contact time between you and a Family Hearing Center Specialist will be three to six hours. This is preferably split into two days but can be one very long and intensive day, if necessary.
You will first receive a comprehensive audiologic evaluation. After a brief interview, the Specialist will perform a range of tests which will provide us with specific information about your hearing, tinnitus and/or hyperacusis. Many of these tests are unique and are not normally performed in otolaryngology offices. If you have recently had audiologic testing, medical evaluation, blood tests, or imaging studies, please bring these results with you.
Your counseling session will follow the audiologic evaluation. During this session, we will discuss the anatomy and function of the ear, potential mechanisms of tinnitus and its alleviation, and present the best treatment plan for you. We will address your individual questions and concerns. Since treatment always includes the use of external background sound, you will receive specific instruction for sound therapy. Frequently, the background sound is amplified by hearing aids, or enriched with low level sound generating devices. Your exact treatment plan will be specified and explained to you. Your commitment to treatment is a crucial ingredient to success. If instruments are needed to implement therapy, a fitting appointment will proceed.