Over 50 million Americans are experiencing the hearing phenomenon of tinnitus. Because there is no cure for tinnitus, several experimental treatments try to alleviate its many psychologically damaging symptoms. This blog discusses the types of tinnitus sound therapy and how they can potentially help you suffer from tinnitus.
Whether you suffer from insomnia or depression, tinnitus has many psychological symptoms in addition to the physical distractions it causes. Tinnitus sound therapy sleep can help you get better rest so you can get back to living the life you led before that dreadful distraction started.
Continue reading to discover the potential benefits and learn about the different types of sound therapy.
What Is Tinnitus Sound Therapy?
Tinnitus sound therapy uses four approaches to address tinnitus symptoms, masking distraction, habituation, and neuromodulation.
Masking Sound Therapy
Masking sound therapy is a treatment method that uses devices to play noises loud enough to cover or “mask” your tinnitus. The frequencies of these noises can be described as white noise.
While masking is a useful technique in the short-term, they are not as effective as a long-term solution to your tinnitus. The reason why masking isn’t a viable long-term solution to tinnitus is that it merely tries to cover up the tinnitus symptom instead of improving the patient’s comfort level with their symptoms.
Distraction Sound Therapy
Distraction therapy is similar to masking sound therapy. This type of sound therapy revolves around playing soothing noises such as waterfalls or fractal tones. Again, distraction sound therapy is not a viable long-term solution to your tinnitus symptoms. Instead of improving the patient’s comfort with their symptoms, it distracts them.
This distraction process usually winds up manifesting as worse symptoms for tinnitus patients down the road. Tinnitus patients tend to build a tolerance and dependence to the noises similar to that of alcoholics with masking and distraction sound therapies. Initially, the masking and distraction therapies work, but over time, patients need the sounds to function, and their symptoms generally worsen.
Because of this, habituation is a much more sustainable tinnitus sound therapy.
Habituation Sound Therapy
Unlike masking and distraction sound therapy, habituation is similar to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the sense that it aims to improve your comfort level with your symptoms. Eventually, when you become familiar with your symptoms, their severity decreases or even vanishes.
A good analogy to understand this process is considering the noise of your fridge at home. Chances are when you first move in, you notice it quite often. Over time, however, the sound’s power most likely diminishes, and you become unaware of the noise, potentially even forgetting that it’s there altogether. Habituation sound therapies attempt to do the same thing with your tinnitus sounds.
Neuromodulation Sound Therapy
Neuromodulation sound therapy is somewhat more complicated than habituation sound therapy. While habituation sound therapy improves tinnitus patients’ comfort level with their tinnitus symptoms, neuromodulation sound therapy retrains the brain’s neural pathways.
It should be noted here that tinnitus sound therapy only works for subjective tinnitus cases. Since objective tinnitus cases occur from actual physiological causes, treating it with sound therapy is somewhat futile.
What Are Some of the Best Sound Therapy Options?
Sound therapy treatment options range in both their price, accessibility, and efficacy. If you’re looking for masking sound therapies you can find devices online. The same goes for distraction sound therapy methods (just go on YouTube, and you’ll find plenty of free options).
However, for more long-term methods such as habituation or neuromodulation sound therapy, you need a more hands-on approach. In these situations, it’s best to have trained professionals to help guide you through the treatment. Hearing centers with trained audiologists offer the best option for anyone looking to enroll in tinnitus sound therapy.
Sometimes, a trained audiologist may recommend the use of hearing aids to improve your treatment. These hearing aids may amplify specific sounds to help improve your comfort level with tinnitus sounds.
The science behind this has to do with hearing aids’ ability to amplify external noises. Amplifying environmental sounds stimulates your nervous system and gives your brain other sounds to focus on besides your tinnitus. This process is known as “auditory stimulus.”
It’s also important to remember that tinnitus is often an early sign of hearing loss. Treating hearing loss in combination with sound therapy often yields the best results. For this reason, many hearing aids contain built-in sound therapy devices.
If you have one of these devices, you should let an audiologist program it for you.
Who Benefits From Sound Therapy?
The answer to this question is that it depends on the individual. We still don’t understand tinnitus fully, and there is no cure for tinnitus. However, sound therapies like habituation and neuromodulation have a lot of research backing their efficacy. Individual results vary, but the therapy as a whole is a useful alternative to the typical “there’s no cure” blanket answer many patients receive from ENT specialists.
Within the different types of sound therapy, habituation and neuromodulation are the two most effective long-term treatments. While masking and distraction techniques may aid in the short-run, they fail to address underlying conditions that habituation and neuromodulation treat.
Conclusion- What Are the Different Forms of Sound Therapy?
Tinnitus has long since been regarded as a phantom “annoying” sound that someone hears, but it’s much more than that. Those who suffer from tinnitus understand how invasive and debilitating this tragically misunderstood condition.
Many people go to ENT specialists only to be told there’s nothing they can do. While there is no cure to tinnitus, there are plenty of audiologists and hearing centers dedicated to alleviating tinnitus patients’ pain.
The different forms of sound therapy represent this struggle in the medical community,. People who suffer from tinnitus should know they aren’t hopeless in their quest to lead a life free from the phantom noises that distract and torment.