Promoting Tinnitus Treatment in Your Practice

February 23, 2009


In January we released a press release on the results of our poll of hearing healthcare professionals. The press release was based on our publication in the December 2008 Hearing Journal on the effectiveness of hearing aids in the treatment of tinnitus. Our poll indicated that the majority of people with tinnitus and hearing loss experienced some relief from tinnitus; and 2 out of 10 significant relief.

In addition we released a syndicated article to 12,000 health editors through ARAcontent titled "Constant ringing in your ears? Hearing Aids Offer Hope"

Already since January we have more than 300 web and print placements of our press release or syndicated article. Hearing healthcare professionals are permitted to use this material to promote their skills in tinnitus management. Here are some examples of excellent tinnitus promotional articles using BHI material (see Tinnitus subsection). The articles are from the following hearing healthcare professionals:

  • Relief for ringing ears. New sound hearing aid centers, San Antonio, TX
  • Relief for ringing ears. Paula Smith, Beach Hearing Aid Centers, Newport, VA
  • Hearing aids offer hope for people who suffer from tinnitus. April Pittman, Salisbury, NC
Here is what hearing healthcare professionals can do to promote tinnitus treatment in their practices:

1. Ask your local editor to print the ARAcontent article in your local newspaper (www.aracontent.com). They can download it or you can show them a copy. Most will print it at no cost since they are looking for content for their newspapers. You can place an ad next to the article or modify the article to promote your practice such as you see in the clippings above.

2. Understand from MarkeTrak VII that as many as 40% of potential clients with hearing loss do not see you because they concurrently have tinnitus.

3. If you do not have a current tinnitus protocol in your practice, get educated now. We have provided some standard readings on our website including how to set up a tinnitus clinic (under Tinnitus treatment readings). Take advantage of the course work available at the professional associations.

4. Keep records of pre-post tinnitus treatment using either the Iowa Tinnitus Handicap Questionnaire or the Tinnitus Reaction Questionnaire. These subjective measures will help express to the public and medical profession your effectiveness in treating tinnitus. I think quantitatively expressing your ability to reduce tinnitus suffering will help promote your practice. For instance the highest score on the TRQ is 104 meaning the patient experiences the 26 problems stated "almost all of the time". If after 3 months of sound therapy using hearing aids or a masker or other device the individual reports a score of 26, due to your intervention you have reduced their tinnitus suffering by 75% (untreated score - treated score)/untreated score = (104 - 26)/104 =75%.

5. Be sure to report your successes to each patient's family doctor. Physicians are evidenced based. The more they receive positive reports from you the greater the likelihood they will refer to you.

6. A great deal of the pain of tinnitus is the patient's reaction to the pain; most of this reaction is cognitive (or simple worrying). So supplying the patient with solid factual information such as contained in Dr. Richard Tyler's self-help book The Consumer Handbook on Tinnitus (Auricle Ink, 2008) will help a great deal.

7. In our survey of hearing healthcare providers the median counseling time spent was only 10 minutes. Clearly a person with tinnitus needs more counseling time. I especially recommend the chapter on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Chapter 5) in Tyler's book. In addition I recommend that the hearing healthcare professional become acquainted with cognitive behavioral therapy perhaps through obtaining a masters in counseling, through course work, or through supplemental reading on cognitive behavioral therapy (Dr. David Burns. Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy Revised and Updated)

8. Learn from the pros, who have set up clinics specializing in tinnitus treatment. One fine example is Dr. Paula Schwartz's clinic in South Edina, MN. I think what we can learn from Dr. Schwartz and the works of Dr. Tyler is that fitting patients with sound therapy devices is not enough; the counseling, verification and validation aspects of the protocol is a critical part of tinnitus therapy.

9. There is hope for people with hearing loss suffering from tinnitus. The use of sound therapy via hearing aids is perhaps an underrated or under-investigated method for alleviating the effects of tinnitus. A recent article in the New Yorker confirms our belief that hearing aids can make a difference.

We will be exploring the tinnitus population and subjective efficacy of various treatment modalities including hearing aids in MarkeTrak VIII, which is in the field now. Undoubtedly this will lead to further BHI public relations articles on the ability of hearing health professionals to mitigate the effects of tinnitus.