The AudioNotch Tinnitus Treatment Blog

Habituation To Tinnitus

Written by AudioNotch Team on October 08, 2015

Please note: the following information does not constitute professional medical advice, and is provided for general informational purposes only. Please speak to your doctor if you have tinnitus.


Habituation is being credited as an excellent form of therapy for tinnitus. It applies the theory that appropriate stimulus can make the affliction biologically irrelevant. In the simplest terms, habituation to tinnitus is designed to attack brain and body reactions evoked by tinnitus. It as much decreases the perception of tinnitus as it increases the patient’s ability to cope with it.

Four Principles of Habituation to Tinnitus

  1. The auditory system actually plays a secondary role in the manifestation of tinnitus.
  2. The primary and dominant emotional and autonomic nervous systems are the major groups in tinnitus.
  3. The brain has the plasticity to habituate any neutral signal, allowing negative components like tinnitus to be neutralized.
  4. Hypersensitivity to hyperacusis (sound) is known to coexist with tinnitus.

Process of Habituation to Tinnitus

Tinnitus habituation requires the use of plastic changes to adjust the way the brain responds to the irritation. Basically, the auditory, autonomic and limbic nervous systems — the conditioned arcs — are retrained and the neuronal networks are modified on the subconscious level of the auditory pathways to manage the way patients react to symptoms of tinnitus.

Counseling in tinnitus habituation consists of intensive, interactive and individualized counseling that educates patients in tinnitus and direct sound therapy aimed at training. Ultimately, the goal is to reclassify neutral signals for tinnitus and teach how to manage each. Patients come to understand the physiological mechanisms of the affliction and how it distresses them. The theory is once tinnitus is demystified, patients are better able to cope with it and tinnitus habituation is achievable.

Sound therapy is critical for habituation to tinnitus. While tinnitus is a non-auditory, internal sound, external noise has successfully counteracted both the patient’s perception and reaction to it.

Therapy entails implementation of a low and constant broad band sound known to effectively minimize the difference between background neuronal and tinnitus-related activity. There is also a reduction on the behavioral level of the limbic and autonomic nervous systems, decreasing the patient’s response which can be annoyance, frustration and even pain. Results in the field have shown this treatment impacts the negative reaction of conditioned reflex arcs, blocking the tinnitus signal within the subconscious pathways to auditory systems.

There is no cure for tinnitus. Habituation to tinnitus has shown varying levels of success, and treatment length can vary patient to patient, but results show it does provide relief under accredited supervision.