Tinnitus Therapy

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is the awareness of sound that is not caused by external noise, and which can affect one or both ears, be similar or different in both ears, and appear to come from different places within the individual’s mind.

Tinnitus affects about 15% of the UK’s adults.

Although uncommon, tinnitus can be objective, i.e., caused by a condition, such as wax or, ear infections or, in rare cases, benign growths which affect the audiovestibular nerve and might be accompanied by dizziness and fluctuations to the hearing.

“Tinnitus is the perception of sound that results exclusively from activity within the nervous system without any corresponding mechanical, vibratory activity within the cochlea, and not related to external stimulation of any kind.” (Jastreboff, 1990).

At Headland Hearing, all tinnitus appointments begin with a thorough case history, full audiometric testing, and examination of the ear.

This is an essential part of any tinnitus consultation, as it can help to eliminate any ‘red flags’ with regards to objective tinnitus, whilst acting as a guide to potential therapies.

A thorough history is important, as hearing loss might not be apparent from a hearing test alone.


What are the causes?

The actual causes of subjective tinnitus remain theoretical.

Most commonly, tinnitus is subjective and is strongly associated with hearing loss.

Some of the stronger theories include ‘auditory deafferentation’ and ‘neural synchrony’.

Possible causes will be discussed and explained within the context of each individual case.


Can my tinnitus be helped?

Based on my clinical experience, and my own experience with tinnitus, yes it can.

Clients can be reassured that, although tinnitus affects many adults, any serious medical causes are rare.

Examining the ear and assessing the hearing status of the individual are an essential first step. This can offer the experienced clinician insights into the possible mechanisms of the tinnitus and guide sound therapies and management strategies.

Tinnitus can be triggered and exacerbated by lifestyle…pertinent lifestyle factors, such as stress, sleep behaviour, anxiety and frustration can be identified, and their relationship to tinnitus examined, with the potential to reduce their impact on tinnitus.

Carefully directed sound therapies can aid desensitisation to tinnitus and work well in combination with appropriate counselling, leading to a habituation process, whereby reactions to tinnitus are addressed and the perception of tinnitus can be reduced over time.

Tinnitus and hearing loss

Hearing loss is strongly associated with tinnitus and addressing hearing loss with hearing aids is an effective form of sound therapy in itself. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated, digital devices, which can also combine ‘masking’ or ‘suppression’ sounds to aid the habituation process, when applied appropriately.

In my experience, the response from hearing aid users is very positive indeed, in terms of reducing overall tinnitus awareness.

Suitability and options for hearing aids and sound generators will be discussed at an initial appointment and I am fully up to date with emerging technology, including hearing instruments from the major manufacturers.  It is important to note that, although not as sophisticated, hearing aids are available free on the NHS.

Please, do not hesitate to contact Headland Hearing with any queries or concerns regarding tinnitus.