Anyone who does experience tinnitus should see a qualified audiologist. While primary physicians may be the first point of contact for seeking treatment, audiologists are better equipped to test and prescribe more advanced treatments for tinnitus. These doctors can conduct both hearing and tinnitus evaluations and recommend the best course of action.
Treatments can range from biofeedback to cochlear implants and from drug therapy to treatment for TMJ.
The most effective treatments address both the neural component of tinnitus (the brain activity associated with how we process sound) as well as the perceptual component (how bothersome the tinnitus sound is perceived to be). Sound therapy addresses both conditions. Sound therapy devices deliver tones that are frequency pitch-matched and rapidly modulated to help tinnitus patients get relief.
While there is no definitive “cure” for tinnitus, research is ongoing and new treatments do occasionally become available.
Tinnitus is experienced differently from person to person. So no one type of treatment is likely to be equally effective for all. The best way to find relief is to see a professional, get an evaluation, and persist in finding a solution that works. And remember to always protect your hearing when in a noisy environment to prevent future auditory damage. The American Tinnitus Association (www.ata.org) is an excellent source of information as well.
Jeff Carroll, Ph.D. is director of clinical services and engineering for Sound Cure, Inc., a sound therapy system. He was the founding director of the Tinnitus Treatment Center at the University of California, Irvine, and has worked with hundreds of tinnitus patients over the past decade. Dr. Carroll holds a doctoral degree in Biomedical Engineering from UC-Irvine.
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