The audiologists at Focus Hearing have been assessing and treating people with tinnitus for over 17 years. During the tinnitus assessment, a thorough series of tests will help to identify the cause of your tinnitus. If this testing identifies a medical condition of the ear, you will be referred to your GP or Ear Specialist to treat the condition.
However, in other cases where the tinnitus is caused by a change in the auditory system for which there is no medication or surgical option (eg cochlear damage), a sound therapy program has shown to be one of the most successful way of reducing the tinnitus awareness and disturbance.
We are trained in the latest techniques to assess your tinnitus and are fully accredited providers of the most popular and successful tinnitus management programs such as Widex Zen Therapy, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy and Neuromonics. Depending on your results, your audiologist at Focus Hearing will be able to recommend the most suitable treatment option available.
Sound Therapy Programs
Sound therapy is a term used to simply describe the use of sound to reduce the tinnitus awareness. At Focus Hearing, we only use sound therapy programs that have been independently clinically proven. We attend domestic and international conferences to ensure what we are offering is not only the latest technology and understanding, but also has been independently clinically proven.
There are a great deal of ‘quick fix’ tinnitus “breakthroughs” or “cures” advertised on the internet, however the fact is that very few of these withstand rigorous clinical validation by independent researches (ie researches who do not have a vested interest in the clinical outcomes).
It is important to understand that when we offer a sound therapy program, the use of a sound stimulus (ranging from either a simple app on your Smartphone, to very sophisticated tinnitus specific hearing aids) forms only part of the program. At Focus Hearing, we offer a very structured program of appointments to ensure you have all the necessary tools to overcome the effect tinnitus can have on your wellbeing.
In severe cases we work collaboratively with other professionals such as psychologists and other health professionals to ensure you receive the best possible care and relief.
Significant Tinnitus Disturbance
For those who’s tinnitus causes significant disturbance, loss of sleep and interfers with their daily routines, Focus Hearing recommends a formal tinnitus management program utilizing ear level sound generators and a structured appointment program. It is important to note, that our goal with these tinnitus management programs is a two stage effect:
- First to provide an initial, rapid reduction in tinnitus awareness and therefore sense of control over the tinnitus
- Then following on from this initial improvement is long term habituation to the tinnitus signal which means the tinnitus begins to move to the background, and the brain treats it like any other background sounds that we subconsciously hear every day, ie without annoyance or interference.
Significant Tinnitus Combined With Hearing Loss
Often tinnitus and hearing loss go hand in hand. When a patient experiences both tinnitus and significant hearing loss, they often complain that they have increased difficulty hearing people clearly, turn the television up louder than others would like, and also have significant difficulty hearing others in social environments such as restaurants, cafe’s or meetings.
Expertly fitted hearing aids will not only improve the hearing clarity but also significantly reduce a persons tinnitus awareness. This is especially the case if the person’s tinnitus pitch (frequency) is within the frequency range of the hearing aid. Our tinnitus assessment will be able to identify if your tinnitus pitch is within the range that would benefit from amplification, and the audiologist will ensure the devices are programmed for optimal results.
Furthermore, a number of major hearing aid manufacturer’s (Oticon, Starkey, Phonak, Siemens and Widex) are now producing very discreet, tinnitus specific hearing aids. These hearing aids have an additional therapy signal which can be customised by our audiologist to best reduce your tinnitus perception.
The price range of tinnitus specific hearing aids will be between $1750 (per ear) for basic level technology up to $3900 (per ear) for Premium level technology which provides the maximum benefit for hearing clarity and tinnitus relief.
Significant Tinnitus With No (or Mild) Hearing Loss
In patients who experience high level tinnitus disturbance with no significant hearing loss, there is a range of ear level tinnitus management devices designed to provide low level, non-intrusive sound signals which give immediate relief and long term reduction in tinnitus awareness.
These devices are very discreet, and the audiologist at Focus Hearing will customise the sound signals to your specific tinnitus pitch and volume (as measured during the initial assessment), which means the volume required to provide relief to your tinnitus is very low. They are a very popular option due to their high comfort levels and discreet style allowing them to be easily incorporated into your daily activities including workplace, socialising and home environments for all-day relief.
At Focus Hearing we recommend the Widex Zen Therapy (WZT) program for patients in this category. It has proven to be a very structured and beneficial program to reduce the impact the tinnitus has on a persons lifestyle and well being. More information on the WZT program can be found here
Mild Tinnitus Disturbance
For those with mildly annoying tinnitus with no significant hearing loss, the large (and growing) choices of Smartphone apps have shown to be very effective at reducing the impact of the tinnitus. They have also shown to be very effective at helping those who are only bothered by their tinnitus when trying to get to sleep. It is important to note that the majority of these apps are not specifically programmed or tailored to an individuals tinnitus profile. That is, they offer an ‘off the shelf’ option at little or sometimes no cost for the app.
Focus Hearing will help you to narrow down the choices available in this area, and also identify which one’s may be more suited to your needs. It is important to understand how to use these apps effectively to maximise the benefit, and our consultations are designed to help you do just that.
Tinnitus and Sleep Disturbance
A significant percentage of patient’s we see report that they are only aware of their tinnitus at night when trying to sleep. That is, during the day when they are active and busy they are largely unaware of the tinnitus. For these patient’s, the tinnitus prevents them from getting to sleep or alternatively they wake during the night and having difficulty falling back to sleep.
For these patient’s we recommend simply using an enriched sound environment via a bedside sound generator similar to the Sound Oasis Sleep Machine (pictured left) that produces low-level ambient sounds which have been developed to assist with sleep. They are also available with tinnitus specific sound cards with additional sound files. However it is important to understand how to best use these systems. The audiologist at Focus Hearing can help you get the most out of these solutions.