Woman touching her ear

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head when there is no external sound. The most common sound is a high-pitched tone or ring, but tinnitus can be perceived as hissing, buzzing, crickets, roaring, as well as a multitude of other sounds. Each person experiences tinnitus differently.

Tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss. An audiologist or otologist/neurotologist can help determine if you have hearing loss and what treatments or management options are available.

At the University of Maryland Medical Center, the audiologists in our tinnitus program diagnose and help manage tinnitus as well as hyperacusis, which is sensitivity to sound.

Located in downtown Baltimore, UMMC’s Division of Audiology provides a three-stage program that has been helping people find relief from the symptoms of tinnitus and hyperacusis since 1991.

Tinnitus Treatment

The goal of the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Program is to evaluate, diagnose and manage your tinnitus and/or hyperacusis so that it no longer interferes with your daily activities or significantly affects your quality of life.

Our multi-stage program provides various levels of treatment depending on the severity of your tinnitus or hyperacusis. Not everyone needs all three stages to achieve relief from tinnitus, but stages must be conducted in sequential order.

Individuals with hyperacusis only go through Stages 2 and 3 of our program, while those with both tinnitus and hyperacusis should go through all three stages.

Stage 1

Stage 1 is a 90-minute appointment to help you better understand tinnitus and the reasons it becomes disruptive. It includes strategies for relieving tinnitus that you can try immediately.

Stage 1 is for individuals who are having trouble sleeping or concentrating or who feel depressed or anxious because of their tinnitus.

All patients attending the appointment are strongly encouraged to obtain medical clearance from an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat physician) prior to seeking assistance through our program.

It is important to rule out medically treatable conditions before pursuing non-medical tinnitus management. An audiologic evaluation can also be helpful in determining treatment options.

Stage 1 is offered monthly as a shared medical appointment with up to 10 patients. Please note that this visit is generally not covered by insurance and must be paid at the time of service.

Stage 2

The next stage is an individual appointment that lasts two hours. It includes:

  • A comprehensive evaluation of your hearing, tinnitus and sound tolerance
  • A one-hour individual consultation that includes a review of your evaluation and discussion of customized treatment options, including device demonstrations

Please note that while test procedures are generally covered by insurance, the individual tinnitus consultation with the audiologist is generally not covered and must be paid at the time of service.

Stage 3

Stage 3 is beginning acoustic therapy. Depending on the treatment recommended, this may include:

  • Ear-level sound generator - a device worn in the ears that produces a pleasant noise
  • Neuromonics Tinnitus Treatment - a device that delivers music tailored to the individual’s hearing
  • Hearing aids - a device that provides amplification customized to the individual’s hearing loss

Tinnitus Treatment Costs

Stage 3 includes one year of formal sound therapy for the management of tinnitus/hyperacusis. Treatment length depends on a number of factors and in some cases, extends beyond 12 months.

The fee for Stage 3 varies depending on the devices selected in Stage 2. These fees are typically not covered by insurance.

Treatment for tinnitus and hyperacusis are often not covered many insurance plans (e.g., Medicare, Blue Cross/Blue Shield). If your insurance carrier does not cover some or all of the services, you are responsible for payment at the time of service.

We do not require that you purchase devices through UMMC Division of Audiology. Patients may use tinnitus devices purchased from outside facilities.

For more information on the Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Program, please e-mail tinnitus@umm.edu.