How is the Neuromonics Tinnitus treatment different than using hearing aids? How is the Neuromonics device or hearing aids different than using sound therapy?
Sound Therapy: Sound therapy can be any external noise that is used to mask out tinnitus so that you can't hear it or so it's reduced to a point where it doesn't bother you. Many people with minimal tinnitus don't need any more than this to help them sleep or relax. When the sound is turned off, the tinnitus returns. It's a masking technique.
Hearing Aids: Hearing aids have improved greatly over the last year or two, especially with regard to tinnitus. It use to be that the hearing aids only amplified out to 3 or 4 kHz, which was not usually enough to mask high frequency tinnitus. Today some go out to 10 kHz. or even more. Hearing aid therapy allows your ears to hear the normal sounds around you better so that you don't notice the tinnitus any longer. There are still only a few hearing aids on the market that have the ultra-high fidelity most people with tinnitus need, so be sure to ask your audiologist the frequency range of any hearing aid before you purchase it. There is also a hearing aid out there that combines the two above strategies, so that the hearing aid itself can produce music sound therapy. Some patients enjoy it, some don't. Hearing aids are another type of masking therapy. When the hearing aids are taken off, the tinnitus returns.
The Neuromonics treatment is different than either of the above as it's goal is to make your brain oblivious to the tinnitus even when you aren't wearing it. To do this it has to retrain your brain not to hear the tinnitus. There are two stages. The first stage gives you both control and comfort when your tinnitus is bothering you most, and lasts for about 8 weeks. During that time you wear the device for a few minutes to an hour or so at a time for up to 2 to 4 hours per day. The next stage actually trains your brain not to hear the tinnitus. In my clinic it has proven very successful for most of the patients who've tried it, however it's not for everyone. An audiologist trained in Neuromonics therapy will be able to tell if it's appropriate for you.
The three programs above, as well as others, can all be successful in reducing tinnitus to some degree for the right people. Some will benefit more from the hearing aid, some will benefit more from the Neuromonics Oasis program, and some may need a combination of both, or something altogether different. If you have more questions about any of these treatment modalities, or others you have heard from, let me know and I can go into further detail.
Dr. Barbara Jenkins, BCABA