If you experience tinnitus – a ringing, buzzing or humming in your ears – you know it can affect your quality of life.
Tinnitus is common. About 20 million Americans deal with ringing in the ears. That’s why it’s important to learn about treatment options, so you can address your discomfort.
What is Tinnitus Sound Therapy?
It’s a therapeutic technique that uses external sounds to alter your brain’s response to tinnitus. Your brain can trigger physical and emotional responses to tinnitus, including anxiety, an increased heart rate, perspiration, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.
Tinnitus sound therapy teaches your brain not to respond by associating the ringing or buzzing with a neutral sound like ocean waves or rain falling. Exposing your brain to the same sounds in different environments allows it to break away from the negativity associated with your tinnitus.
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Types of Sound Therapy
Habituation: This process teaches your brain to reclassify tinnitus as a sound it can disregard, like background noise. Habituation employs constant, neutral sounds to reduce your sensitivity to the ringing, humming, whooshing or buzzing. You’ll need to play a neutral sound for several hours throughout the day and while you sleep.
Masking: This technique involves playing sounds over your tinnitus symptoms to mask the volume, especially during a tinnitus spike. You can use white noise machines or music to completely or partially block out the ringing in your ears.
Distraction: Like masking, distraction uses a specific sound to draw your attention away from your tinnitus symptoms. You may also use visual cues and images to distract you from the sound in your ears.
Neuromodulation: This technique uses sounds at specific pitches and frequencies to neutralize the hyperactivity your brain experiences during a tinnitus episode. Neuromodulation delivers targeted stimulation to alter nerve activity that’s triggered by tinnitus.
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Who Can Benefit from Sound Therapy?
Anyone can use sound therapy, whether they have temporary or chronic tinnitus. Sound therapy can help you learn to regulate your physical and emotional responses to tinnitus, which is important for people of all ages. You should consult a trained audiologist who specializes in tinnitus management to ensure you receive appropriate treatment.
Other Tinnitus Treatment Options
Hearing aids: Tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss, so wearing hearing aids can ease the ringing in our ears and improve your sound perception. Hearing aids increase the volume of ambient sounds, which can mask your tinnitus symptoms. Some hearing aids even come with masking programs specifically designed to negate the effects of tinnitus.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy: Managing your emotional reaction to your tinnitus can ease the overall impact of your symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps you correct negative emotional responses that occur in response to the ringing in your ears. You’ll learn to change automatic negative thoughts and redirect your energy toward a neutral or positive mindset.