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Frequently Asked Questions on Tinnitus

How do you treat tinnitus?

The treatment is called Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. It involves an extensive audiological evaluation, several counseling sessions, the use of external sound, and sometimes the use of sound devices.

What does “retraining therapy” mean?

Our goal is to retrain the subconscious parts of the brain to ignore the sound of your tinnitus and to reach a stage where you are no longer aware of/annoyed by your tinnitus.

Are there any side effects of the treatment?

No, there aren’t any side effects.

What kind of audiological tests are performed?

The tests that we will perform include an audiogram and several specific tests which will allow us to evaluate whether you have tinnitus and/or hyperacusis, and to what degree.

Will the audiological tests hurt my ears?

The tests begin with low levels of sound and will gradually get louder; therefore, none of the tests will be painful.

What if I don’t have tinnitus when I am tested?

If the tinnitus is not present on the day of the testing, it will NOT influence the possibility of success with the treatment.

Is the counseling a form of psychotherapy or biofeedback?

No, the counseling will provide you with information about the causes and factors involved in your tinnitus/Hyperacusis, explain to you how the retraining works, and teach you how to control your tinnitus. The counseling session is a fundamental part of the treatment process.

Is this treatment covered by insurance?

In most cases, they do not. Some insurers may cover part of the evaluation and sometimes the devices as well. You may call or write your insurance company and check with them as to your coverage and possible reimbursement.

What is the role of external sound?

External sound from radios, televisions, stereos, etc. is used at a low level, not to cover (mask) your tinnitus, but to help bring about the changes in your subconscious hearing system. It reduces the contrast between your tinnitus and complete silence, which will help distract you from the sound of your tinnitus.

What are the devices and what do they look like?

The devices used in tinnitus retraining therapy are called “sound generators.” The devices are small instruments that are worn behind both ears. They look similar to the behind-the-ear hearing aids and can be worn with glasses. In-the-ear sound generators are also available.

Can I just buy the devices?

The devices are very important for the process of retraining, but they must be used properly. The manner in which the devices are used will depend on each patient’s individual needs. If you simply buy the devices, it is unlikely that you will achieve improvement, and in some cases you may even hurt your ears. We will teach you how to use them effectively.

Do I need to have the devices?

Not every patient will need the devices. Following the medical and audiological evaluation, we will give you our recommendations and you can choose your treatment.

I am using hearing aids; how can I use other devices?

This will depend of the type of hearing aid that you have. However, it is possible that we can work with your hearing aids and you will not need any other devices.

What is the difference between masking and these devices?

Although masking devices can sometimes provide tinnitus relief, this approach is aimed at making tinnitus completely inaudible. However, when the device is removed, the tinnitus returns, and the level of sound required to mask the tinnitus might be uncomfortable.

We use the devices to generate sound, not to cover the sound of tinnitus. The goal of retraining therapy is to retrain the brain to eventually no longer be aware of the tinnitus signal. In order to do this, the tinnitus signal cannot be covered or masked. Generating sound that mixes with your tinnitus will help you feel more comfortable and will remove the negative emotional reaction to tinnitus, so that the perception of tinnitus itself is no longer heard.