Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
The onset of tinnitus is provoked by a combination of factors. The most common causes include noise exposure, genetic factors, and the inevitable decline of hearing caused by aging. While many hearing centers solely offer hearing aids and other “band-aids” for treating tinnitus, we are committed to helping our patients through Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and other comprehensive tinnitus solutions. Over time, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy can help lower tinnitus’s perceived intensity and make managing tinnitus much easier.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) was developed in the late 1990s. Over the course of the past two decades, TRT has proven to be very effective with individuals living with clinically significant tinnitus.
Long-Term, Lasting Relief
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy will be slightly different for each patient, but it always incorporates prescriptive sound therapy coupled with educational counseling for a minimum of 12 months. Depending on the individual, the relief offered by TRT can be immediate or more gradual over time, depending on numerous factors, such as tinnitus triggers. Part of the TRT process is working with an audiologist trained in the directive counseling process, which helps to discover these “triggers” and determine how best to avoid them with the patient.
While some causes, such as recreational noise-induced tinnitus (going to a concert, target practice, etc.), can be avoided, others, including occupational hazards (police, military, construction), injuries (sports, car accidents), environmental factors (where you live), and genetic influences (malformation of the inner ear due to various Syndromes) are not so easily controlled. This is where a comprehensive evaluation and a holistic approach like TRT can be highly effective.
Sound Relief is committed to using evidence-based treatment models. The usefulness of TRT has been demonstrated by numerous double-blind and randomized studies conducted around the world. Individuals who experience TRT are the most likely to report lasting relief many years into the future.
Leveraging Experience with Personalized Treatment
Having worked with the original developer of TRT (Dr. Jastrebroff) and having 20+ years of personal experience utilizing TRT, Dr. Julie Prutsman is an expert in how to administer TRT effectively. She is also a proud member of the TRT Association, which has helped her continue contributing and learning about the best practices in the industry.
According to Dr. Julie, “Tinnitus became a passion for me early on in my education. When I was in the graduate school clinic at CU-Boulder, I met with many different patients. Every day, people came in complaining of tinnitus. We were just like everyone else, telling them, ‘I don’t know what to do for you. You have hearing loss; let’s try hearing aids.’ And that was it.”
However, Dr. Julie was committed to finding better solutions for those living with this debilitating condition. Thus, she sought an elective during her doctoral program on tinnitus, eventually leading her to a TRT training at Emory University in Atlanta. While there, she studied alongside Dr. Pawel Jastreboff, who developed Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) and thus “developed a strong foundation and [learned] the best ways to help people that are living with this [symptom].”
What Does Tinnitus Retraining Therapy Treatment Look Like?
At Sound Relief Hearing Center, intensive, approximately 90-minute tinnitus evaluations are necessary to develop the prescriptive sound therapy for each patient. During your evaluation, your audiologist will walk you through a series of tests and questions to customize your optimal treatment plan.
The first step is to get a frequency or pitch-specific examination of your hearing, measuring the softest levels you can hear. Next, the audiologist will isolate the pitch and intensity of your tinnitus. Tests will also be completed to measure the eardrum’s health and speech processing with and without background noise. Finally, all the compiled data will be considered with your complete medical history to see which tinnitus treatment best matches your needs and lifestyle.
One of the questions your audiologist will ask is, “When is your tinnitus most bothersome?” For some people, it’s always, meaning you must incorporate a sound therapy signal for full-time use. For other people, persistent tinnitus while sleeping may be the issue, and thus, there are options to use sound therapy exclusively at night.
Sometimes tinnitus treatment is based on how long a person has experienced tinnitus. If it’s a fairly recent tinnitus onset duration, your audiologist may decide on a different therapy than they would for someone with a tinnitus medical history of 10+ years.
There are a lot of factors that go into determining the ideal treatment plan for each individual. During your evaluation, you will undergo thorough testing and review your complete medical history to arrive at your optimal treatment plan.
While optimal treatment varies from person to person, TRT is most effective when incorporating prescriptive sound therapy coupled with educational counseling for a minimum of 12 months. These devices are typically worn on or behind the ear and emit a soothing signal with a sound intensity that mixes with your tinnitus. Over time, a combination of audiologist directive counseling and prescriptive sound therapy will rewire your brain and decrease your perception of tinnitus. Many patients can block the perception of their tinnitus using TRT at 24 months and beyond.
Deep breathing and relaxation exercises, guided imagery, and stress management are often key features of this treatment. The overall goal of this combined therapy is to eliminate the perception of tinnitus as a threat, thus diverting attention away from it and allowing the brain to rewire itself properly.
Effectively combined, prescriptive sound therapy and educational counseling form the core of TRT, though their actual implementation will vary based on each patient’s personal needs.
Discover the Sound Relief Difference
Sound Relief helps more people with tinnitus each year than any other practice in the United States. With TRT and other treatment options, managing and minimizing the perception and impact of tinnitus is possible. If you are currently living with tinnitus and are struggling to find relief, there is hope for you.
Find the help you need and the relief you deserve by scheduling an appointment with Sound Relief today.