Tinnitus, which is the perception of sound in the absence of an external stimulus, affects nearly 50 million Americans. Tinnitus is a symptom of other conditions, one most commonly being hearing loss.
Hyperacusis is defined as having a reduced tolerance or increased sensitivity to everyday sounds in one’s environment. This condition may lead to fear of certain sounds, also known as phonophobia.
Although there is currently no cure for tinnitus, this symptom can be successfully managed to minimize its perception and improve quality of life. Furthermore, hyperacusis can be treated to help decrease over-sensitivity to everyday sounds. Ultimately, the goal of our Tinnitus & Hyperacusis Management Program is for patients, together with an audiologist, to develop an individualized management plan using a multidisciplinary approach.
If you suffer from bothersome or debilitating tinnitus, or hyperacusis, below are the following steps you can take to be seen by one of our audiologists who specialize in the management of these conditions:
- Fill out our Tinnitus and/or Hyperacusis Intake Packet(s), and mail or fax to our clinic. Please include any past hearing tests you may have records of. Once this packet is reviewed, you will be contacted to make an appointment. Please allow up to five (5) business days for review of your case.
- Address: 2330 Post Street, Suite 270, San Francisco, California, 94115-0340
- Fax: 415-353-2883
2. If you have not had a hearing test in the past 6 months, please call our clinic to schedule this prior to coming in for your tinnitus consultation appointment.
3. Based on the results of your hearing test, you may also be referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to make sure that your tinnitus is not caused by a medical condition that can otherwise be treated by a physician.
Consultation appointments, which typically last 90 minutes, are designed to establish an individualized therapy plan to help manage tinnitus and/or hyperacusis symptoms. The following topics may be discussed:
- Patient’s tinnitus history, including duration of symptoms, perceived sound quality and past treatment attempts, if applicable
- Anatomy and physiology of hearing, and possible causes of tinnitus
- The link between hearing loss and sensitivity to sounds
- Psychological aspects of tinnitus management
- Options for management strategies
- Potential referrals to other tinnitus specialists
Potential management options include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
- Hearing Aids
- Acoustic (Sound) Therapy
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness Based Tinnitus Relief
- Relaxation Techniques
- Other Tinnitus Products (e.g. Neuromonics)
Frequently Asked Questions
Tinnitus Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- What is tinnitus?
- Tinnitus is any perception of sound in the absence of an external stimulus.
- How common is tinnitus?
- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that about 15% of the population (over 50 million Americans) experience some type of tinnitus. Nearly 20 million people struggle with bothersome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million individuals have severe cases.
- What causes tinnitus?
- Most forms of tinnitus are primarily due to abnormal brain activity, which are usually related to a hearing loss. In some cases, tinnitus is caused by a medical condition that can be treated by a physician.
- Is there a cure for tinnitus?
- Numerous techniques have been shown to improve tinnitus loudness and associated stress. A tinnitus specialist can help the individual with tinnitus regain control and effectively manage the condition. It is unlikely that a tinnitus treatment will make the condition completely disappear. There is currently no scientifically-validated cure for most types of tinnitus.
- My doctor told me that there is nothing I can do about my tinnitus. Is there any way to make it better or go away?
- Years ago, the common belief was that nothing can be done for tinnitus. Today, trained specialists in the fields of audiology, ENT, and psychology are helping patients with tinnitus improve their quality of life.
- What is the best way to manage and treat my tinnitus?
- Management and treatment of tinnitus is an individualized process. At UCSF, your audiologist will help you create a personalized treatment plan based on your individual needs
- If I have tinnitus, do I have hearing loss?
- About 80% of individuals with tinnitus have hearing loss revealed by a traditional hearing test; however, some individuals with normal hearing may also experience tinnitus.
- Can medications or over-the-counter (OTC) drugs help my tinnitus?
- There are currently no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications or OTC herbal supplements that have been shown to effectively treat tinnitus. Please consult your physician with further questions.
UCSF Tinnitus Program:
- Who will I be working with?
- A UCSF Doctor of Audiology will be managing your care. Additionally, you may be referred to tinnitus specialists in related fields such as ENT, primary care and/or psychology.
- How many patients achieve success with methods used in your Tinnitus program?
- One of our most common treatment methods, Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT), has shown success rates of over 80% (Jasterboff, 2000)
- Will insurance pay for my visit?
- Insurance will not be billed and all services are self-pay. Test procedures associated with the tinnitus counseling appointments, such as hearing tests and tinnitus matching, may be covered by your insurance.
- What will happen at my appointment?
- At your appointment, you will be educated about current theories of tinnitus, as well as management and treatment procedures. It is important to recognize that many of these management procedures are not intended to cure tinnitus. Rather, they are procedures designed to assist you to cope with tinnitus and develop strategies to best adapt to the symptom. Please be aware that the success of any tinnitus management approach depends on your interaction and active participation.
- Why is a current hearing test required for my visit?
- It is important to determine whether your tinnitus is related to a treatable condition, therefore it is required that you have had a recent hearing evaluation in the past six months. Please notify the receptionist when making your appointment if a hearing test is needed so that sufficient time can be scheduled to include this during your appointment here.
Additional questions or questions about your personal case will be discussed at your appointment.
Tinnitus Management and Treatment Solutions:
- What is Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment?
- Many people have questions about Neuromonics tinnitus treatment and whether they should consider this approach. The Neuromonics acoustic desensitization procedure involves extensive counseling and acoustic therapy. Learn more here.
- What is DeSyncra?
- Desyncra for Tinnitus is a targeted neuromodulation therapy designed to change the brain patterns related to tinnitus and reduce bothersome qualities. Learn more here.
- What is Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)?
- TRT is the most extensively studied, evidence-based tinnitus treatment. It involves personalized sound therapy and re-thinking the way we perceive tinnitus. When properly administered by your Doctor of Audiology, TRT can help the individual become less bothered by their tinnitus. Learn more here.
- Can hearing aids help?
- Yes, for people with hearing loss, amplification of sounds can shift our attention away from tinnitus. Consult your provider during your appointment to determine candidacy.
- What are ear-level noise generators?
- Devices worn on the ear that provide consistent sound therapy throughout the day.
Last Updated: September 2017