Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) is a common problem,
affecting about 17% of the general population around the world (44 million
people in the USA).
It causes significant suffering in about 4% of the general population (10
million in the USA).
Typically patients are told "to learn to live with it." The
development of a neurophysiological model of tinnitus
(Jastreboff, P.J. Phantom auditory perception
(tinnitus): mechanisms of generation and perception. Neurosci.Res.:221-254,
1990) and based on it a new clinical approach have created a totally new
treatment for tinnitus that results in significant improvement for more that
80% of the patients treated at our center (Jastreboff, P.J.,
Gray, W.C., Gold, S.L.
Neurophysiological approach to tinnitus patients. Am.J.Otology,
17:236-240, 1996). This method, Tinnitus Retraining
Therapy (TRT), uses a combination of low level, broad-band noise and
counseling to achieve the habituation of tinnitus, i.e., the patient is no longer aware of their tinnitus, except when they focus
their attention on it, and even then tinnitus is not annoying or bothersome.
Tinnitus is accompanied by hyperacusis in
about 40% of the cases. Hyperacusis is a
decreased tolerance of sound and can be a serious problem. Some patients
experience hyperacusis without tinnitus. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy
can restore totally or partially the normal level of sensitivity to sound.