Melanie Herzfeld Au.D.

 

Tinnitus

bell

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head when no actual sound is present. The word "tinnitus" derives from Latin and means "to tinkle or to ring like a bell." For some, tinnitus may be intermittent and mildly distracting but for many the sound is continuous, 24 hours a day, and causes great discomfort.

Consider these questions:

  • Does my tinnitus interfere with my sleep?
  • Does my tinnitus make it hard for me to relax?
  • Does my tinnitus lead me to avoid noisy situations?
  • Does my tinnitus make it hard for me to concentrate?
  • Does my tinnitus "drive me crazy"?
If you answered 'yes' to any of these questions then tinnitus is seriously interfering with your quality of life. While there are still no cures there are now several FDA-cleared medical devices and other established tinnitus treatments which provide long-term benefit for the treatment of tinnitus and are now offered in our clinic. If you suffer from tinnitus, you may be a candidate for these treatments.

Tinnitus affects 20% of the US population; with 1-2% of these people severely affected. When tinnitus is severe, the results can be devastating – its interference with sleep and concentration causes stress, and interferes with work and relationships, often leading sufferers to a feeling of loss of control over their lives and putting a severe restriction on the tinnitus sufferer's quality of life. In some cases an individual’s work performance may be affected and could lead to the abnormal use of leave-time or sick days as well as decreased motivation and productivity in the workplace.

At the Hearing and Tinnitus Center tinnitus treatment always begins with a comprehensive tinnitus evaluation. This full assessment averages two hours in duration and will identify your specific needs. Assessments are usually covered by insurance plans, but as always check with your own insurance provider for your actual benefits. Insurance information and a listing of the insurance companies we accept may be found on our INSURANCE page.

The vast majority of tinnitus sufferers also experience hearing loss. The use of amplification provides an acoustically enriched environment which for many individuals relieves tinnitus. A comprehensive tinnitus evaluation will determine if you fall into this category. Note that the standard hearing test, which only tests octaves through 8000 Hz may not detect the higher frequency loss many tinnitus patients have, nor will it incorporate the essential components of a full tinnitus evaluation

If tinnitus with hearing loss is what you have, then the Widex hearing aids with Zen may be one of your options. Widex logo Zen aids are state of the art devices that delivers a world class hearing aid experience, and may incorporate an extended frequency response required by many tinnitus patients. At its basic level Zen can, at user discretion, provide relaxation by playing harmonic fractal tones through the hearing aid's receiver. acoustically enriched environment However in the hands of the skilled practitioner the zen may be customized to the patients specific tinnitus profile, and can be used as part of a successful tinnitus treatment. For many sufferers some relief is immediate; for some just having the enhanced acoustic environment offers substantial relief. For others, with continued use of tools such as this, as the user habituates through the sound therapy, the effects of tinnitus are further mitigated to provide longer term relief with decreased tinnitus reaction levels. Click here for a zen sound demo and more details.

Similarly there are other brands of devices which can accomplish this habituation. GN Resound now has the Live and Alera hearing aids with sound generators, as do Amplisound and General Hearing Instruments. Any of these devices may help the tinnitus sufferer to learn to habituate. During the evaluation process, the tinnitus patient will have a chance to hear all of these devices so that the one which is appropriate is selected by the patient in concert with the audiologist.

The sound generators, or maskers, (more appropriately called minglers), used in combination or as stand alone devices are used in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) to help generate tinnitus relief. TRT combines the use of sound generators and amplifiers, when appropriate, with focused counseling to retrain the brain to make the tinnitus a neutral sound. When neutral, it loses its importance and the patient will habituate so that the emotional response is lessened, and thus the perception is reduced. TRT has been used for quite a long while and has a proven success record in abating the reactions to tinnitus over time.

Serenade

Serenade is a new customized sound therapy system consisting of temporally patterned sound, or S-Tones ®, which may well result in tinnitus suppression. Use of this device in hour long increments has been found to decrease tinnitus awareness and may lead to habituation. Click here for more details.

Neuromonitcs processor

The Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment is a customized medical device that matches your hearing and tinnitus profile and treats the cause of tinnitus versus the symptom of tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The Neuromonics device is convenient to use and takes place in your own environment for about 2-4 hours per day without disrupting your lifestyle. The treatment takes place over a six to nine month period. There is immediate relief (typically within 0-2 weeks of starting treatment) and the tinnitus disturbance continues to improve throughout the treatment and provides long-term benefit.

Notched music therapy is another treatment that may be appropriate for the tinnitus sufferer. Notched music refers to music where the octave corresponding to the patient's tinnitus frequency is removed from the music recording. The patient listens to the notched music of his/her selection through an MP3 player for several hours a day as a background music while carrying on normal daily activity. A recent blind small scale study demonstrated that over time notched music therapy can significantly reduce the tinnitus loudness.

The tinnitus treatment appropriate for each patient is determined at the time of evaluation.