Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: What You Really Need to Know About TRT
When tinnitus symptoms become just too much to bear, it is nice to know that there are a few options we have to get it under control fast. Basic masking can work, although it is certainly an active process that requires constant external influences to be effective. Something like Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, on the other hand, may be able to turn your own mind into the “masker”, essentially making this an entirely passive form of relief. But does it actually work?
For individuals suffering from the often brutal condition called tinnitus, there may be a real, viable solution that goes by the name of TRT, or Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. This is a combination treatment method which was essentially designed to “trick” the brain into believing that tinnitus was no longer present… or, at a bare minimum, just not that important. In other words, it’s supposed to tune the phantom noises out, just like you’re able to tune out the sounds of traffic, chatter, and other environmental sounds.
The therapy was officially created in the late 1980’s by a neurophysiologist named Pawel Jastreboff. It is quite involved process, making use of both cognitive therapy and tinnitus masking. If you don’t already know, masking is simply the process of “drowning out” your imagined noises with generally less abrasive real ones. White noise, for example, is a commonly employed tool used in the masking of tinnitus symptoms.
The promise is that through a relatively lengthy process (roughly 12-24 months) involving numerous counseling sessions and extensive masking, the ringing in your ears will no longer be readily noticeable. While it may not eliminate the sounds entirely, it is supposed to render them essentially irrelevant, and only clearly apparent in dead quiet environments or when deliberately focused upon. If this sounds like an outcome you can get behind, perhaps TRT is worth taking a closer look at.
What Tinnitus Retraining Therapy Is:
- a counseling program
- a masking program
- a tinnitus reduction program
- a coping mechanism
- a program focused on gradual improvement
What Tinnitus Retraining Therapy Is NOT:
- a medical treatment
- a psychiatric or psychological treatment
- a surgical process
- a support group
- a cure for tinnitus
- a quick fix
How Does TRT Work?
The detection, processing, and interpretation of sound is a 3-step process. First, an event (or stimulus) occurs and its sound waves enter your ear canal, where they are transformed by the inner ear nerves (cochlea) into electrical patterns. These patterns then pass through your subconscious pathways, where they are essentially given a meaning and categorized. Finally, the “filtered” impulses are sent to the auditory cortex of the brain and perceived by… well, by you.
According to proponents of TRT, the real trouble among people who suffer from severe tinnitus begins with the second step, or the subconscious mind’s categorization process. It is here that emotional connections can be made between the phantom noises and your reaction to them. In other words, strong (usually negative) emotional binds are created, which can amplify the sounds and loop them into never-ending madness. It is a complex process which you should certainly research. This is only a very broad explanation.
In a nutshell, however, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy begins to weaken these strong emotional connections through a process known as “habituation”. Ultimately, the tinnitus remains, but the breaking of the subconscious mind’s emotional amplification process essentially turns the ringing into basic background noise. It doesn’t go away. It just shuts up a little and becomes tolerable!
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy: What Is Its Success Rate?
It is said that a very high percentage (over 80 percent) of individuals who are treated with this particular option claim to have experienced a noticeable reduction in their tinnitus symptoms. While this is certainly impressive, please note that it can take over a year for the process to achieve its full potential. As such, if you happen to fall into the 20 percent who are not helped, this can be viewed as an enormous waste of time, money, and hope.
The bottom line is that TRT should certainly be considered as a viable option. The numbers don’t lie. However, it is also important that you are aware that this isn’t a magic bullet. As with most tinnitus treatment options, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy works for some folks, but not for all. Education, diligence, patience, and faith will all need to be employed if you are going to see your tinnitus symptoms someday (hopefully soon) come to an end.