Tinnitus is a very common hearing symptom that affects about 20 percent of the population. Left untreated, tinnitus can create an array of problems, including sleeping difficulties, interrupted thoughts, negative moods, and challenges holding a conversation.
Tinnitus also overlaps with other hearing conditions, which is why a tinnitus-centric approach to hearing treatment is often among the most effective options available. Over the past few decades, audiologists across the world have been discovering how tinnitus retraining therapy can help their patients overcome this potentially debilitating symptom.
Though tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT) requires at least a 12-month commitment, it typically produces the most lasting results. In fact, when asked one year after receiving treatment, individuals who had undergone tinnitus retraining therapy were more likely to report lasting results than individuals who had experienced any other type of tinnitus treatment.
In this article, we will discuss the most important things for you to know about tinnitus retraining therapy. By taking the time to understand the importance this revolutionary treatment option has played in many people’s lives, you can decide if receiving TRT is something that is right for you.
What is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy?
Tinnitus retraining therapy, as the name implies, is a treatment option that attempts to “retrain” the way your brain, central nervous system, and auditory system receives, processes, and interprets sound. Subjective tinnitus, which is the most common type of tinnitus, causes people to hear ringing or buzzing sounds even when there is no external source of sound present. TRT attempts to comprehensively address why these sounds are being heard and to recalibrate your internal systems to prevent the creation of similar sounds in the future.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy uses sound therapy and directive counseling over 12-24 months to properly deal with the three systems involved: the auditory system (hearing), the limbic system (emotions), and the autonomic nervous system (flight or fight response).
Tinnitus can have many different underlying causes including exposure to loud noises, ototoxic medications, occupational hazards, age-related hearing loss, and many others. Furthermore, many people experiencing additional hearing issues will not visit an audiologist (or even realize they have a problem) until they decide to seek treatment for tinnitus. Because this symptom is surprisingly complicated, most leading hearing centers recognize that offering personalized treatment is an absolute necessity.
How Effective is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy?
Tinnitus retraining therapy was developed around the turn of the 21st century. This particular treatment was developed out of the recognition that while hearing aids and maskers can potentially cover up signs of tinnitus, these types of devices fail to truly address the underlying issue. Over the course of one to two years, many individuals can essentially rewire the way the parts of the brain and auditory system that are responsible for producing the tinnitus signal(s). Relief from tinnitus can be experienced early on in the process of TRT, but the full 12-month commitment is necessary to make sure individuals do not relapse to previous levels of tinnitus.
Of the many studies conducted on tinnitus retraining therapy, most demonstrate that tinnitus retraining therapy is effective for about 80 percent of individuals. Once therapy is completed, the majority of individuals who underwent TRT are able to sustain their results over time. When compared to previous non-device-based tinnitus treatments, TRT is recognizably the most effective form of treatment currently available.
Studies Supporting the Effectiveness of Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
As stated, there are several clinical studies that suggest tinnitus retraining therapy is an exceptionally effective method for treating tinnitus. Recently, a study conducted by Doctors Bauer, Berry, Thomas, and Brozoski (published by the National Institute of Health) concluded, “Adults with moderate to severe tinnitus and hearing loss amenable to amplification, benefit from either TRT or [standard care].” The study also claims that TRT may “exceed” standard care, which was a conclusion well supported by the available data.
A report from Emory University’s Dr. Pawel J. Jastreboff and Dr. Margaret Jastebroff also concluded “TRT is a useful approach to the management and treatment of tinnitus. TRT is highly effective for both tinnitus and hyperacusis. TRT can be successfully implemented in audiological practice.”
Another study, originally conducted in India, revealed that “Improvement in Tinnitus perception was observed in a total of 49 (85.96 percent) patients.” Around the world, controlled TRT studies continue to reveal that between about 75 and 85 percent of patients who undergo the treatment experience lasting results. When compared to both the placebo groups and to groups receiving “standard” tinnitus treatments, TRT continues to demonstrate a strong level of efficacy.
What are Some Other Tinnitus Treatment Options?
Tinnitus retraining therapy, which can consist of sound therapy and various other programs, is conclusively the most effective type of tinnitus treatment available. However, as suggested, no single case of tinnitus is the same between two people, and providing patients with personalized treatment options is the key to management. In order to achieve the most desirable outcomes, multiple treatments may need to be combined.
Hearing aids and sound generators are often very beneficial for individuals who are experiencing tinnitus but have not yet completed TRT—and they typically help provide early-on benefits during the process of TRT. Additionally, mobile applications such as Oticon Tinnitus SoundSupport, Widex Tinnitus Treatment, and the ReSound’s Tinnitus Relief App can all offer assistance that is very complementary to TRT.
Because tinnitus is also often tied to stress, relaxation techniques, such as meditation or yoga, have also been proven to be beneficial.
Conclusion – Does Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
TRT offers a holistic approach to treating tinnitus that addresses every component of the auditory system. While tinnitus can be an incredibly frustrating problem to deal with, there are proven, lasting solutions readily available. Sound Relief Hearing Center offers Tinnitus Retraining Therapy and other evidence-based forms of tinnitus treatment in Colorado and Arizona. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, visit us online or call (720) 259-9962.