Updated: Mar 26, 2021
If you have tinnitus, you know how bothersome it can be. No matter what you are doing, it just seems as though it is always there.
Tinnitus is defined as an auditory phantom perception (Jastreboff, 1990; 1995) and the sensation of sound without external stimulation (ANSI, 1969).
I often describe tinnitus to my patients as a similar sensation as phantom limb pain-there are reports that a person may feel their limb is still there and still has feeling even after it is amputated. Your brain and nervous system do a similar thing with your ear and auditory pathway which can result in tinnitus. This then activates your limbic system and triggers the fight or flight response and a negative emotion is then tied to the tinnitus. Once this occurs, tinnitus can become debilitating and can result in the patient feeling as though their tinnitus is taking over their daily activities. Tinnitus can sound different to each person; some patients describe it as a ringing in their ears, cicadas, buzzing, whooshing, hissing noises.
Unfortunately, many people are told that there is nothing that can be done to help with their tinnitus and that they have to learn to live with it. This is simply not true!
We are the only office in the local community that offers a personalized, comprehensive tinnitus treatment program that uses Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. A study by Jastreboff found that over 80% of patients that experience bothersome tinnitus found significant improvement in their tinnitus following completion of the Tinnitus Retraining Therapy program.
During Tinnitus Retraining Therapy I often explain to my patients that when the tinnitus is new, the brain pays more attention to it and focuses on it more. A good example of this that we use in TRT is the instance of purchasing a new refrigerator. In this example, you buy a new refrigerator and it is installed in the kitchen. You immediately notice and are worried by the noisy motor. You telephone the shop and they reassure you as they are used to such calls. The repair department tells you, “Don't worry it takes 3 weeks for the new motor to run in, then it will be silent.” In 3 weeks you notice that you cannot hear the fridge, even if you listen for it. The motor hasn't changed, but you no longer hear it as your auditory system no longer monitors the sound. Our auditory system is pretty amazing and no longer finds the sound of the motor running (even if it is intermittent) important since it has no meaning. This is an example of habituation of perception. This is one of the goals of TRT.
I also counsel my patients to ensure they are around some sort of noise for the majority of their day (even at night). Any patient with tinnitus knows that their tinnitus is not as noticeable or strong when there is some sort of noise in the environment; however, when you are in silence or a quiet room, the tinnitus will seem significantly louder and more bothersome. This is similar to entering a totally dark room in which there is just a single birthday candle lit in one corner. The candle appears to has a great brilliance in the otherwise darkened room. If suddenly, the blinds are drawn up behind the candle to reveal sunlight pouring through a window, the candle becomes virtually invisible.
If you experience bothersome tinnitus, we can help! Give us a call at (715) 298-3166 to schedule your complimentary 15 minute tinnitus consultation appointment with Dr. Klatt.