Tinnitus & Behavioral Medicine

Dr. Richard A. Wyckoff & Associates

What is Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a medical condition that causes the sensation of noises such as buzzing, ringing, chirping, or other sounds. It is not a hallucination even though other people are not able to hear it. It is not a mental illness.

About 17% of people of all ages get it, but it is twice as common in the elderly. While most people with tinnitus don’t suffer enough to need treatment, about 25% of those affected have intrusive tinnitus that can interfere with daily activity and sleep and cause great distress.

Many of these people are so bothered by it that treatment is required. In the past, treatments have been very limited. Attempts to mask the noises with other noises or to desensitize you to the noises have met with only partial success. This is in part, because these treatments did not directly address the underlying problem, which wasn’t even discovered until very recently. If you or someone you love suffers from tinnitus, Dr. Wyckoff & Associates offer new state of the art treatments that can be very effective.

What causes Tinnitus?

The original source of the disease is usually a trauma to the ear, such as an infection, blocked canal, otoslerosis, tumor, Meniere’s disease, or drugs such as aspirin or antibiotics. Hearing loss or excessive exposure to loud sounds can also trigger tinnitus.

Tinnitus itself, however, is actually caused by changes in the brain that occur secondary to these original problems. Specific areas of the brain that control hearing, emotions and stress regulation change their metabolic activity, causing increases in delta waves and reductions in alpha waves. This change in spontaneous neural activity actually creates the sounds that you hear and also the stress that you feel.

How can we help?

Tinnitus is not caused by emotional conflict. Treatment requires that abnormal brainwave patterns be restored to normal.

Fortunately many people can learn to do this with a combination of neurofeedback, stress management and health and behavioral counseling sessions. Some lifestyle and nutritional changes can often help a great deal, too.

These non-invasive procedures are part of the specialty of behavioral medicine practiced by Dr. Wyckoff & Associates.

What is NeuroFeedback?

Neurofeedback is a new medical technology. It is totally painless. Your technician will place tiny sensors on your scalp over the target areas to be treated. Then you simply sit in a comfortable chair and watch a televison screen that shows you information about your brainwave activity.

It is like a video game where your goal is to increase alpha wave production and decrease delta wave production in specific areas of your brain. As you learn how to do this, you will be amazed that the ringing gradually goes away. It is interesting, painless and, most important, effective for many people.

What should I expect?

Your physician and audiologist will make the diagnosis of tinnitus and rule out other medical problems prior to referring you. If you do not have a physician or audiologist, Dr. Wyckoff will refer you to appropriate doctors for these services.

Initially, Dr. Wyckoff will meet with you for a thorough diagnostic session and discuss the treatment options with you.

Diagnostic assessment could include a battery of tests to measure your brain’s delta and alpha wave production in the target areas, assess your biological response to stress and help develop your personal treatment plan.

Treatment may include neurofeedback, peripheral biofeedback, stress management, clinical hypnosis, relaxation training, lifestyle counseling or other behavioral medicine interventions. Medication and nutritional supplements may also be considered in collaboration with your physician.

Treatment will require multiple visits. Most people will experience benefit within the first month of treatment but will need to continue for two to three months for maximum results.

What will it cost?

The initial diagnostic interview costs $175.00 and lasts about an hour. Most insurance companies will pay for all or part of this fee. The additional costs depend upon the procedures selected and the number of procedures required.

There are too many variations in insurance plans and benefits coverage to list here, but all details will be discussed before any additional charges areccrued.

We accept insurance, and we are participating providers for many plans such as Premera, Regence and Medicare. We are also happy to bill your insurance company for you. You are, of course, responsible for any costs not covered by your insurance.

How can I learn more?

We are always happy to answer your questions during a FREE initial telephone inquiry. Call our office today to schedule a phone call with Dr. Wyckoff.