What Is Tinnitus Sound Therapy, and How Does It Work?

Treat the Ringing in Your Ears

Suffering from tinnitus? You might consider a treatment known as sound therapy. We'll explain how it works, so you can decide if it's right for you.

Although it isn't typically fatal, tinnitus can nevertheless be incredibly debilitating. 

A study published in The Journal of Affective Disorders, for instance, suggests a direct causal link between tinnitus and depression, with the latter increasing the risk for the former. The Hearing Journal further notes that tinnitus often causes insomnia—sometimes to such an extent that it is life-threatening. Finally, per Medical News Today, tinnitus may worsen anxiety or be triggered by it

Tinnitus can be incredibly bothersome even if you aren't anxious, depressed, or an insomniac. Tinnitus sound therapy exists as a possible option for treatment. Although it's not a cure for tinnitus—sadly, there is no cure—it can nevertheless provide welcome relief for some people. 

As noted by The American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a nonprofit organization committed to curing tinnitus and hyperacusis, sound therapy typically involves one or more of the following mechanisms

  • Masking. Uses consistent external noise to either partially or completely drown out the patient's tinnitus. Typically, the noise used in masking is low-frequency and non-distracting. This is the principle behind white noise machines and the reason why air conditioners can occasionally help tinnitus sufferers. 

  • Distraction. Diverting the patient's attention away from their tinnitus through external sound. It differs from masking in that the sounds employed are far more noticeable.

  • Habituation. Helping the patient reclassify tinnitus as unimportant and training them to consciously ignore it. This is typically accomplished through cognitive behavioral therapy, and may also include treatment for anxiety and depression if either is present. 

Neuromodulation. A more advanced treatment that utilizes specialized sound to directly target the neural hyperactivity believed to cause tinnitus.

 

What Are Some Examples of Tinnitus Sound Therapy?

As you might expect, there's an incredibly diverse range of sound therapy treatments and techniques. Which one works best for you depends both on the severity of your tinnitus, the presence of conditions such as depression or anxiety, and your own unique brain structure.  As noted by the ATA, potential options include: 

  • Noise machines. The simplest form of sound therapy. A specialized machine emits constant, generic sound. This sound can take many forms, but the one thing they all share in common is that they're subtle, ambient, and low-frequency. Air conditioners or fans can act as a stand-in in a pinch. 

  • Notched-Music devices. These specialized medical devices deliver algorithmic sound that leverages specific, often imperceptible tones and frequencies tailored to an individual patient. They are generally only worn during therapy sessions or at scheduled times, such as when tinnitus conditions are especially severe. There is some evidence to suggest that notched-music devices provide lasting, long-term relief compared to standard white noise machines.  

  • Hearing aids. Modern hearing aids often have built-in tinnitus relief, and even those that don't may allow users to self-treat their tinnitus through a companion app. 

Scheduled therapy. If noise machines don't seem to be doing the trick, you may consider finding a therapist specializing in treating tinnitus. We recommend seeking therapy regardless if you are struggling with depression and anxiety—treatment may not only reduce the recurrence of tinnitus but can also help you better cope with the stress of the condition.  

 

Where Can I Find More Information About Tinnitus Sound Therapy? 

Because each person's ears and brain are unique, so too is each patient's experience of tinnitus. Therefore, identifying the best treatment may require you to experiment with multiple techniques until you find one that works for you. To that end, the best advice we can give you is to speak to your audiologist or registered healthcare provider.

In addition to potentially directing you to tinnitus sound therapy specialists, they can also determine if your tinnitus is a symptom of something else, such as impending hearing loss. 

Understand that you are not likely to find relief for your symptoms overnight. As with any mental condition, tinnitus treatment requires both time and effort. It may take multiple sessions over multiple months before you start to notice your symptoms wane.

The first step is to reach out—and we can help you with that. Schedule an appointment with hearing professionals at one of our trusted clinics.

What Is Tinnitus Sound Therapy, and How Does It Work?

Treat the Ringing in Your Ears

Suffering from tinnitus? You might consider a treatment known as sound therapy. We'll explain how it works, so you can decide if it's right for you.

Although it isn't typically fatal, tinnitus can nevertheless be incredibly debilitating. 

A study published in The Journal of Affective Disorders, for instance, suggests a direct causal link between tinnitus and depression, with the latter increasing the risk for the former. The Hearing Journal further notes that tinnitus often causes insomnia—sometimes to such an extent that it is life-threatening. Finally, per Medical News Today, tinnitus may worsen anxiety or be triggered by it

Tinnitus can be incredibly bothersome even if you aren't anxious, depressed, or an insomniac. Tinnitus sound therapy exists as a possible option for treatment. Although it's not a cure for tinnitus—sadly, there is no cure—it can nevertheless provide welcome relief for some people. 

As noted by The American Tinnitus Association (ATA), a nonprofit organization committed to curing tinnitus and hyperacusis, sound therapy typically involves one or more of the following mechanisms

  • Masking. Uses consistent external noise to either partially or completely drown out the patient's tinnitus. Typically, the noise used in masking is low-frequency and non-distracting. This is the principle behind white noise machines and the reason why air conditioners can occasionally help tinnitus sufferers. 

  • Distraction. Diverting the patient's attention away from their tinnitus through external sound. It differs from masking in that the sounds employed are far more noticeable.

  • Habituation. Helping the patient reclassify tinnitus as unimportant and training them to consciously ignore it. This is typically accomplished through cognitive behavioral therapy, and may also include treatment for anxiety and depression if either is present. 

Neuromodulation. A more advanced treatment that utilizes specialized sound to directly target the neural hyperactivity believed to cause tinnitus.

 

What Are Some Examples of Tinnitus Sound Therapy?

As you might expect, there's an incredibly diverse range of sound therapy treatments and techniques. Which one works best for you depends both on the severity of your tinnitus, the presence of conditions such as depression or anxiety, and your own unique brain structure.  As noted by the ATA, potential options include: 

  • Noise machines. The simplest form of sound therapy. A specialized machine emits constant, generic sound. This sound can take many forms, but the one thing they all share in common is that they're subtle, ambient, and low-frequency. Air conditioners or fans can act as a stand-in in a pinch. 

  • Notched-Music devices. These specialized medical devices deliver algorithmic sound that leverages specific, often imperceptible tones and frequencies tailored to an individual patient. They are generally only worn during therapy sessions or at scheduled times, such as when tinnitus conditions are especially severe. There is some evidence to suggest that notched-music devices provide lasting, long-term relief compared to standard white noise machines.  

  • Hearing aids. Modern hearing aids often have built-in tinnitus relief, and even those that don't may allow users to self-treat their tinnitus through a companion app. 

Scheduled therapy. If noise machines don't seem to be doing the trick, you may consider finding a therapist specializing in treating tinnitus. We recommend seeking therapy regardless if you are struggling with depression and anxiety—treatment may not only reduce the recurrence of tinnitus but can also help you better cope with the stress of the condition.  

 

Where Can I Find More Information About Tinnitus Sound Therapy? 

Because each person's ears and brain are unique, so too is each patient's experience of tinnitus. Therefore, identifying the best treatment may require you to experiment with multiple techniques until you find one that works for you. To that end, the best advice we can give you is to speak to your audiologist or registered healthcare provider.

In addition to potentially directing you to tinnitus sound therapy specialists, they can also determine if your tinnitus is a symptom of something else, such as impending hearing loss. 

Understand that you are not likely to find relief for your symptoms overnight. As with any mental condition, tinnitus treatment requires both time and effort. It may take multiple sessions over multiple months before you start to notice your symptoms wane.

The first step is to reach out—and we can help you with that. Schedule an appointment with hearing professionals at one of our trusted clinics.

  

  

  

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