Are Your Ears Ringing?
TINNITUS—How Do We Say It?
(TIN-i-tus or tin-NIGHT-us)
Both are considered the correct pronunciation. People on the West Coast tend to say tin-NIGHT-us and on the East Coast they say TIN-i-tus. Here in the Midwest we say it either way just like tomato [to-may-to/to-mah-to].
How Is Tinnitus Treated?
At the Tinnitus Treatment Center we review your medical history, medications, noise exposure history, hearing test results, dietary and sleep habits as well as physical and emotional state at the onset of the tinnitus to help determine what may have caused the tinnitus. We also work with your primary physician and specialists to rule out medical conditions that cause tinnitus. Tinnitus is a symptom of another underlying condition so it is important to uncover the cause and address the condition whenever possible.
The Tinnitus Treatment Center uses Integrative Tinnitus Therapy (ITT) which develops an individualized treatment plan for each patient based on the results of a thorough evaluation. Tinnitus Retraining Therapy and Polyvagal theory are the foundations for our methods. ITT is a holistic approach based on your individual needs that include the following types of assessments and treatments:
- Address underlying hearing loss & other medical conditions
- Active Sound Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Interventions
- Self-care Coaching
- Mind-Body Techniques
Did You Know?
Did you know? Most people experience tinnitus when in a very quiet environment. This is the auditory system’s way of compensating when there isn’t input from the external environment. It is also perfectly normal to have fleeting tinnitus that shows up once in a while. Many people experience tinnitus from time to time and are not bothered by it. The body naturally habituates or ignores the tinnitus signal and allows it to fade into the background.
Integrative Tinnitus Therapy: Change the Label, Change the Reaction
Intrusive tinnitus can become a significant problem for people whose nervous systems do not allow habituation to occur. The interruption of habituation occurs in a preconscious state of nervous system activity called neuroception.
Neuroception and habituation can be actively retrained, even though they are preconscious processes. ITT is a specific protocol combining sound therapy and self-care techniques to ease the body through the natural habituation process. This process usually takes about 8-12 weeks of actively participating in the protocol before entering the maintenance phase. Our protocol is done in tandem with addressing the underlying cause of the tinnitus. For example, if tinnitus is being caused by a hearing loss, the patient will also wear amplification to address the hearing loss. If the tinnitus is being caused by TMJ, we will work with a dentist who specializes in treating TMJ alongside our therapy.
Mind-Body Medicine and Tinnitus
“In the two decades that I have been helping people who struggle with tinnitus, I have continuously looked to the research literature for the latest treatments and devices. It has been my experience that sound therapy, while a necessary component of any treatment plan, cannot be solely relied upon for the treatment of tinnitus.
A recurring theme in the research is the relaxation and stress management component to all tinnitus treatment plans. I heard myself telling patients that they needed to manage their stress and find a way to relax. While this was a true statement, it was not entirely supportive. Very few people have relaxation skills and stress management skills mastered. It is unfair to tell a patient who is continually stressed by their tinnitus to “relax and manage stress” without teaching them the skills.
This led me to learn more for myself so that I could teach others. I have completed my certification in Mind-Body Medicine through the Center for Mind-Body Medicine and have been offering Mind-Body Skills Groups to people since 2016. My initial observation is that people are not only learning self-care skills but are also reporting improvements in their tinnitus in less time than with traditional tinnitus treatments.”
–Sara King Downs, Au.D.
Tinnitus Relief Technique – Soft Belly Breathing
Dr. Sara K. Downs, Director of the Tinnitus Treatment Center
Meet Dr. Sara K. Downs, an audiologist who has been working with tinnitus patients for over 20 years.
In addition to Audiology, Dr. Downs is Certified in Mind-Body Medicine and the Safe and Sound Protocol. She has additional training in nutrition, sleep hygiene, and coaching approaches; all can have an impact on successful tinnitus management. This holistic method of treatment called Integrative Tinnitus Therapy (ITT) is based on the neurophysiological model of tinnitus and the polyvagal theory.
Tinnitus is a multi-system symptom affecting the auditory and nervous systems. In many treatment approaches only one system is addressed. ITT uses both sound therapy to stimulate the auditory system and a specific retraining protocol to address the part of the nervous system responsible for intrusive tinnitus. Each treatment plan is tailored to the individual based on which areas of life are being affected by the tinnitus most. Such as: sleep, mental health, relationships, concentration and communication.
“Many people come in anxious and distraught, feeling like ‘Tinnitus has them’ and they can’t escape the sound in their heads. Our goal is to help patients get to a place where they have tinnitus, but only if they listen for it — where they are in control of whether or not they hear the tinnitus.
We encourage the body’s natural abilities to habituate in a process that is comforting and supportive, achieving phenomenal outcomes with much shorter treatment times than traditional Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. At the close of the treatment plan, most patients report that they are no longer bothered by tinnitus; many no longer hear it at all.”
— Sara King Downs, Au.D.
Dr. Sara K. Downs in the News
Hearing Wellness Center’s Sara Downs can help people with tinnitus manage their condition. See her insights in this Prime Women article. View Article
Hearing Wellness Center’s Sara Downs continues to educate patients about the symptoms of tinnitus and helps them find relief. See her insights in this Next Avenue article. View Article
What do you do if you have tinnitus? Sara Downs explains tinnitus and when to see an audiologist for treatment in this Bloomberg article. View Article
Dr. Downs is frequently invited to speak and teach about her approach to tinnitus treatment. She has developed a clinical curriculum to share the ITT protocol that has evolved out of her twenty years of experience in treating tinnitus with her audiology colleagues.
*Audiologists interested in becoming trained in the ITT protocol please fill out the form below.
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