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Department of Audiology

Tinnitus Q and A

What is TRT?
TRT stands for tinnitus retraining therapy, or sound therapy. It basically involves training the person to ignore the sounds of their tinnitus. The person is fit with small devices that look like hearing aids. These devices delivery low level sounds into the person’s ears and over a long period of time (i.e., up to 2 years) they learn to ignore their tinnitus sounds. This is very important part, because the sound never leaves the person – the person is not as bothered by the sounds. This therapy requires extensive training and should be done only in consultation with an Audiologist trained in TRT.

What is residual inhibition? Is it new?
Residual inhibition is a well-known and researched phenomenon. It is used to describe a procedure whereby a person with tinnitus is exposed to a sound very similar to their tinnitus in a very controlled manner. For very few people, this procedure may reduce the sounds that they hear. But the relief is only temporary. That is, the procedure has to be repeated once the person’s tinnitus comes back. So it is not a cure. Certainly more research is needed before a specialist can commit to offering this to everyone with tinnitus.

What will work for my tinnitus?
There is no cure for tinnitus, but it can be managed successfully. But before trying any treatment, a person with tinnitus should get a referral to an audiologist. The audiologist will perform a complete audiological evaluation, which usually will involve a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor to rule out any medical causes for the tinnitus. Often times there is nothing that can be done medically. However, there are a variety of treatments available and a qualified audiologist can outline them after a complete assessment.

I saw an Audiologist 6 months ago about my tinnitus. How come I am not in therapy?
A large number of people who have had a formal audiological evaluation for their tinnitus do not require such intensive therapy. The evaluation tends to focus on providing the patient with correct information, answering questions and taking the mystery out of the tinnitus. After the assessment and counseling, most people can "handle" their tinnitus. If you require further information, please contact your local audiologist to discuss your results.

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