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Multi-Disciplinary Treatment Approach

I believe that the best approach to patient care is to collaborate with each professional discipline to maximize treatment resources available to the patient.  Each discipline plays a valuable and essential role in assessment, education, treatment and support.  We all have our unique areas of expertise, and input from all these disciplines offers you the best possible care.

This Multi-Disciplinary Model emphasizes that each of the members of the team, including the patient, share a role in the treatment and management of the impact of tinnitus.  In fact, as you see from the diagram below, you, are at the center.  Learning some of the different coping strategies that are available will empower you to enhance the care that you are already receiving. 

Looking at the role of all of the members of the treatment team is essential for providing the patient with hope.  There are times that you may have felt that you have reached the ‘end of the road’ in terms of options, and the reality is that there are things that you still can do that can help you in managing the impact of your tinnitus. 

Let’s look at a brief summary of what the role of each of the members of the treatment team may offer.  You are invited to gather more extensive information and inquire as to the specifics each discipline may provide for you in terms of overall care.

Tinnitus Treatment Team


Family Physician:  The patient is likely to present to the family physician regarding concerns about symptoms in the ear(s) or sound.  In addition to symptoms of tinnitus, you may also be describing difficulty with symptoms of depression, anxiety or sleep disturbance.  The FP may prescribe medication for associated conditions and symptoms if it is assessed that your daily functioning is being impaired.

Though these medications may not impact the sound of tinnitus, there can still be value in considering the benefits of reducing other symptoms since a vicious cycle of distress can develop.  That is, the more anxiety and depression you feel for example, the worse your tinnitus may be.  Keep in mind that some medications can be ototoxic, and checking with your pharmacist about this side effect is important.  As well, the goal for you is to feel you have a variety of coping strategies for managing the impact of this condition.  Long term use of medication does not replace the need for you to learn to cope and adapt to the impact of tinnitus in healthy ways.

ENT (Otolaryngologist):  Your FP may feel it is important to see a specialist who can perform a complete assessment of your ears. You are likely to have your hearing evaluated and it is not uncommon for the ENT to order a CT scan or MRI.  The purpose of these diagnostic tests is to eliminate the possibility of other more serious conditions that may require surgery or treatment.  Your ENT plays an important role in ruling out these conditions.  Assuming the results prove to be normal, you may hear that there is not a current pharmaceutical or surgical procedure that will eliminate the tinnitus.  Though there is ongoing research to achieve this goal, the patient may feel there is “nothing else that can be done” in terms of options for care.  This is absolutely not the case.  It is also possible, that the ENT may feel a referral to an alternate specialist may be of value in terms of a thorough assessment of your condition. 

Other Specialists:  This referral could include for example, an Oto-Neurotologist, a specialist in conditions involving both the ears and the brain.  A referral may also include an evaluation from a Dentist, since there are times that TMJ is an associated condition with tinnitus.  If you are experiencing dizziness, you may receive a referral to a Physiotherapist who specializes in Vestibular Disorders. 

Audiologist:  Though you may have received a hearing test, Audiologists are trained to provide a comprehensive battery of tests for hearing assessment. Through this evaluation they may recommend treatment in the form of audiological devices.  A significant role of the audiologist is to provide education to the patient on the mechanisms of hearing and assist the patient in understanding what is occurring.  Having this information can offer valuable relief to the patient. 

Audiological Devices & Sound Therapy: The audiologist, or audiological technician may suggest the value of audiological devices.  If there is hearing loss, they can fit you for a hearing aid that best suits your hearing needs. Some tinnitus patients experience relief from a combination of hearing aids, maskers and generators.  Sound therapy includes things like fountains, white noise, fans, sounds of waves, rainforest, streams and other sounds of nature.

Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT):  This is a specialized treatment approach that professionals must receive extensive training to administer.  Developed by Pawel Jastreboff, this approach is based on a Neurophysiologic model of tinnitus and involves Sound Therapy and Directive Counselling.  It involves educational sessions on the anatomy and physiology of the auditory system, limbic system and tinnitus signal.

Psychologist:  The role of a psychologist in the treatment of tinnitus has not always been considered a component in patient care.  This is partly due to the stigmas that unfortunately exist regarding this profession.  Tinnitus is an audiological and neurological condition and one may wonder how a psychologist can help someone with something that involves the ears and brain.  It is impossible to ignore the psychological and social impact at multiple levels that the person with tinnitus might experience.  Including a psychologist in tinnitus care acknowledges that suffering goes beyond the ‘sound’ itself.  People want to learn how to reduce the distress that accompanies the sound.  This website is devoted to this component of treatment and empowering people with the tools that can help you reduce this distress.

Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM):  According to the NIH (National Institute of Health), almost 75% of adults have used CAM at some point.  These therapies could include the following: Supplements, Naturopathic and Homeopathic remedies, Biofeedback and Acupuncture.  Each individual  must be responsible for gathering the essential information on these treatments and decide if they wish to explore them further.  It is important with respect to some supplements that the patient confirm with their pharmacist or specialist that there are no contraindications with prescription drug interactions.  Natural is not always safe, as there may not be FDA approval nor standardized amounts in the dosage.

Support Groups:  Most of us want to understand what we are experiencing.  Support groups exist to share valuable information that is available on current research and to hear about what other people are finding helpful.  There is value in knowing that you are not alone; that other people share some of your challenges.  The role of a support group goes beyond sharing stories of suffering.  It is to educate and inform people with ideas and strategies that can offer hope in how to manage these challenges.  There are professional organizations, listed in the section on ‘Links’, that are committed to providing current information to people with tinnitus.

Education & Research:  Thankfully there are gifted professionals worldwide who are committed to understanding the mechanisms behind tinnitus and to develop treatment possibilities.  Extensive research is being done in Europe and the United States and an increase in funding to do this research.  We can continue to be hopeful that with the ongoing dedication to this field, we can one day look forward to a cure and treatment of a condition that affects millions of people around the world.

Family & Friends: There is a valuable and supportive role that family and friends can offer to the person with tinnitus.  Understanding more about the condition itself allows these people to have compassion for how their loved one is being affected.  It is difficult to offer support to a condition that we cannot see or hear.  Attending support group meetings with your partner can be helpful.  It is also important that the person with tinnitus do their best to communicate with significant others regarding what kind of support would be most helpful.


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