- Masker Devices
- Cognitive Therapy
- Psychiatric & Psychological Intervention
- Drug Therapies (including lidocaine)
- Gingko Biloba
The purpose of this approach is that of applying a controlled noise to the offending ear(s). A white noise is normally employed and amplified to a point sufficient to cover the ongoing tinnitus. For some, there is a phenomenon of residual inhibition. This is best defined as the absence of tinnitus, or a significant reduction of tinnitus, when the white noise is withdrawn.
Many tinnitus sufferers find it much easier to cope with the external noise produced by the masker device than with the constant tinnitus. The masker device is housed in a behind-the-ear or in-the-ear hearing aid casing. For those with tinnitus and a hearing loss, it is possible to place both a masker and a hearing aid in the same casing.
Dr. Jack Vernon, the developer of modern masking therapy, has recently been emphasizing the need to combine counseling with masking. Dr. Olsson uses this approach with some patients.
The purpose of this approach is one of having the patient analyze his or her behavior resulting from tinnitus. Negative behaviors, or cognitive distortions, are those that tend to exacerbate the tinnitus. Positive behaviors are those that tend to make it easier for the patient to cope with tinnitus. The end result of this therapeutic approach is that of having the patient understand and convert negative reactions or behaviors into positive ones and thus gain control over the ongoing tinnitus.
Cognitive Therapy is typically provided by a psychologist. Some audiologists, including Dr. Olsson, may incorporate some elements of cognitive therapy for specific patients.
It has been demonstrated that there is a positive correlation between the subjective loudness of tinnitus and stress. Regardless of the stressor, the application of biofeedback is one of having the patient learn how to react to and manage stress and thus maintain an acceptable level of control of those factors affecting stress. For some, the ability to exercise control has been most successful in reducing the annoyance caused by tinnitus.
Dr. Olsson is not aware of any practitioners of biofeedback for tinnitus operating in the San Diego area.
Although this Center’s professional staff does not provide this type of patient management, we do have consultants to whom patients can be referred for effective intervention. For some, tinnitus has become an intense, debilitating and psychologically distressing condition for which immediate psychiatric or psychological intervention is necessary. For some patients, this type of therapy, coupled with other types described here, can be quite effective.
Dr. Olsson provides referrals to local psychologists on a case-by-case basis when indicated.
Many commonly used, medically recognized prescription drugs have been tried by the medical establishment and by tinnitus researchers to alleviate tinnitus. A few have shown some promise. Unfortunately, all have serious risks associated with long-term use. One must seriously question whether the consequences of the cure, including drug-dependency, are worth the benefits.
In the interest of public safety, this site will not list any of the multitude of experimental drug-based tinnitus treatments. Interested parties are referred to the American Tinnitus Association for further literature or research references.
Lidocaine injected into the middle ear is generally not considered safe or effective for the management of tinnitus. (Reference available on request.)
Gingko Biloba is one of a multitude of substances in the unregulated and undocumented world of “natural” remedies. Due to the power of published rumors, it has been a popular drug for tinnitus. There have been many positive anecdotal stories, but clinical trials with this substance have proven gingko has no more (or less) effect on tinnitus than does a placebo. A large-scale, double-blind study conducted by the British Tinnitus Association is conclusive on this subject.
Dr. Olsson does not sell gingko preparations, despite their significant profit potential.