The University of Auckland Clinics


Treatments for tinnitus


There is no magic bullet for tinnitus. The aim with all treatments is to reduce its annoyance and intrusiveness.

Auditory habituation therapy

This therapy retrains the part of the brain which picks up the “sound” in the ears or head so as to remove the awareness of it from the consciousness. In other words, it desensitises the sufferer to the tinnitus. It involves wearing a therapeutic noise generator device (which looks like a hearing aid and emits a low hissing noise) for at least eight hours a day.

 

Devices

A number of devices can be used for sound therapy. The goal is to introduce fairly constant low level sound which blends with (but does not cover) the tinnitus. For this approach to be successful it requires the tinnitus sufferer to have sound stimulation for a minimum of 8 hours per day for up to 12-18 months.

 

Bedside noise generators

Bedside noise generators (sometimes called “maskers” or sound conditioners) look like small radios. Most play background-noise, such as rain falling or ocean surf rolling. They can be fitted with headphones or pillow speakers so that your partner can’t hear them.

 

Hearing aids

Wearing a hearing aid fitted by an audiologist with specialist expertise in tinnitus can be a very effective way of managing the condition.

The person with tinnitus wears hearing aids to make surrounding sounds a little louder to lessen the awareness of tinnitus.

Some of the latest digital hearing aids now offer new solutions to tinnitus management. They provide maximum amplification of low-level sounds; medium-level amplification of moderate sounds; and little or no amplification of high-level sounds. Meaning, people can more easily ignore their tinnitus.

Multiple-programme hearing aids have the facility for users to switch between different settings. Hence, the user can choose between hearing programmes optimised for listening to speech and tinnitus programmes designed to reduce their awareness of tinnitus.

 

Counselling

During tinnitus counselling at The University of Auckland Hearing and Tinnitus Clinic, we show our clients a range of techniques for coping with and adapting to tinnitus.

 

Social support

People often misunderstand the frustrations that can come with tinnitus and hyperacusis. Sufferers need understanding. So how can family and friends help?

  • Reduce loud noises at home, in the workplace or at social gatherings.
  • Understand why they might want to avoid noisy situations.
  • Do what you can to reduce their stress levels.