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How Sound Therapy Can Be Used to Combat Tinnitus

05/21/2015

Thanks to Leanne Powers, AuD, for the content on which this week’s blog post is based.

Sound therapy for the treatment of tinnitus (constant ringing, buzzing, or humming) can take many forms, and may be effective alone or in combination with psychological counseling. All forms are intended to alter your perception of tinnitus, so that it doesn’t constantly irritate and distract you. Even if you don’t have hearing loss, hearing aids with tinnitus therapy features can bring relief.

Understanding tinnitus

Approximately one out of every 10 Americans has been diagnosed with some form of tinnitus. This has made the public much more aware of the condition, and eager for information on causes and treatment options.

The most common of tinnitus, subjective, is the perception of sound in your ears or head without any external source. It is frequently caused by damage to the inner ear, such as excessive or prolonged exposure to dangerously loud noise. Many tinnitus sufferers also have some form of hearing loss.

Sound therapy, defined as any use of sound intended to alter a person’s perception and reactions to tinnitus for the purpose of providing relief, has been found to be effective for many people with the condition. The earliest tinnitus “maskers” have been around since the 1970s and involve using broadband noise generators, hearing aids, or a combination of devices to produce white noise and similar distracting sounds.

Effective hearing aid options

If you have hearing loss, the amplification provided by hearing aids may be enough to mitigate the annoyance of tinnitus. However, if that doesn’t do the trick, many hearing aids are equipped with therapeutic features that can be activated to produce sounds that relieve tinnitus.

But what if you have tinnitus without hearing loss? Hearing aids may still be your best bet, as they can be adjusted to a “noise-only” mode without providing amplification. Also, they are often more economical than regular hearing aids meant to correct hearing loss.

Besides the standard five static therapy noises produced by hearing aids equipped with tinnitus therapy features, Siemens hearing aids now offer “Ocean Waves” sounds — nature sounds that can be adjusted in intensity and frequency (think the sound of ocean waves breaking against the shoreline). They provide a positive, soothing, and stress-relieving experience that is ideal for patients who prefer listening to more natural sounds to combat their tinnitus.

Every patient’s needs are unique, and tinnitus treatment options vary. If you’re tired of living with untreated tinnitus, make an appointment with a hearing care professional, who can assess your specific needs and determine the best possible treatment for you.

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