Tinnitus Retraining Therapy – What is it and Does it Work?

By | November 3, 2014

tinnitus retraining therapyFor those who are plagued by chronic ringing in the ears, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) is a possible solution. TRT involves a combination of counseling or teaching and the use of low level, broad band noise that is usually delivered via a tinnitus control instrument (TCI) worn behind the ear. The main goal is to become so accustomed to tinnitus that it fades into the background and is no longer a nuisance.

As a therapy for tinnitus, TRT is an extremely useful tool that can provide patients with peace of mind and some much-needed relief. Tinnitus retraining therapy is sometimes also known as tinnitus habituation therapy, and addresses a problem that cannot be resolved by surgery or medication.

While many individuals can accept tinnitus and take it in stride, others suffer terribly until they feel as if they will go out of their minds if something isn’t done to stop the incessant ringing. In many cases, patients also develop hyperacusis or decreased sound tolerance, in which they become over-sensitive to certain frequencies of sound. Tinnitus retraining therapy can successfully address this problem as well.

How Does Tinnitus Retraining Therapy Work?

tinnitus retraining therapy and counselingIn the first part of TRT, counseling is provided to teach patients about tinnitus, how the brain processes sound and to help demystify tinnitus. It is aimed at answering any questions they may have, to help decrease anxiety, fear or discomfort related to tinnitus.

Counseling and teaching is a vital part of tinnitus retraining therapy. It helps to break negative perceptions and assist the patient in pushing the tinnitus to the back of their mind until it ceases to be a problem or distraction.

The second part of TRT uses sound therapy. In order to provide patients with relief, they are given low level noise to focus on, worn on a device behind the ear. This device looks like a hearing aid and is called a tinnitus control instrument (TCI), or sound generator. It is set up to generate relaxing sounds or white noise which offers a distraction from the tinnitus noise that is their constant companion.

If hearing loss is present, amplification may also be added to the mix of sound played via hearing aids to provide better stimulation of the auditory system.

How Effective is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy?

Patients who begin tinnitus therapy are seeking answers. According to this study tinnitus retraining therapy is an effective treatment. However habituation does not happen overnight. Most individuals need to continue sessions for a year to a year and a half in order to get satisfactory results. Once tinnitus habituation is achieved however, treatment is no longer necessary. In the beginning, TRT may be seen as a coping mechanism. Once habituation occurs, the ringing or buzzing noise becomes a part of the subconscious and is no longer even perceived.

TRT for chronic tinnitusThere is No Magic Cure for Tinnitus

Tinnitus is extremely frustrating for many of its victims simply because there is no one single cure. Doctors generally cannot pinpoint the source of the problem, although it is believed to have a neural basis.

That being said, medical professionals do not have a quick and easy fix. No magic wand will make tinnitus go away. Those who are bothered by it must use innovative techniques such as tinnitus retraining therapy, in order to deal with their situation.

Tinnitus is Not the Same for Everyone

It is interesting to note that many of the people who are affected by this condition are not adversely affected. It is as if they don’t even notice the ringing that is with them every day. However, others find tinnitus to be a torment. It can ruin their concentration, cause sleep disorders, and a heightened sense of anxiety. It is for this reason that tinnitus habituation therapy has been designed to help patients put the noise out of their minds.

Tinnitus Habituation is Effortless

Once true tinnitus habituation takes place, there is no longer an effort on the part of the patient. Think about sounds that are a part of our daily lives. From the rush of traffic going by the house to the rain coming down on the roof or the low hum of the air conditioner, low level noise is all around us. Over time, these sounds are no longer noticeable unless one chooses to focus on them. It’s not a matter of being unable to hear them. We simply don’t notice them any more as we become habituated, or accustomed, to them.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy is a Way to Retrain the Brain

tinnitus habituation therapy retrains the brainWith therapy for tinnitus, patients actually retrain their brains. They are taught to transform that loud ringing or buzzing in their ears into a signal that no longer seems to be loud. The goal is also to take away meaning for that sound, so that it is no longer a point of focus.

With intensive counseling sessions that are given on an individual basis, patients can finally overcome tinnitus and have a long-term solution that doesn’t involve invasive surgery or the use of chemicals for relief. Individuals should seek out therapists who are well-schooled in tinnitus retraining therapy and have a positive track record.

Silence is Not Golden

It’s interesting to note that silence is not the answer for those who suffer from tinnitus. Even after tinnitus retraining therapy has been effective in achieving habituation, it is recommended to use low level, background noise as a distraction whenever possible. From various soundtracks that can be played at night to provide a soothing focus, to recordings of soft environmental sounds, it is best to avoid complete silence. Otherwise, a patient may suffer a relapse if the mind should revert to focusing on the ever-present ringing in the ears.

Being vigilant and using creative techniques can result in continued success in the long run. Support group meetings can also help individuals deal with this persistent problem.

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