Tinnitus doesn’t actually affect the damaged regions of the cochlea, but instead affects the areas directly around the damaged zones in the brain. Therefore, we need to focus on those frequencies and how to affect their brain functioning. As we found out in the causes section, those frequencies are now overly active in detecting sounds. In the past, the thinking has been pretty simple: just play sounds on the affected frequency to allow the ear to detect an actual noise instead of a perceived noise.
That treatment works a little bit, but it has serious drawbacks because you are only temporarily moving the tinnitus from inside the brain back to the ear that is hearing the actual sound. You will still hear the high pitched frequency; it just isn’t being created by your newly overactive brain any longer, it actually exists.
If we can’t cure tinnitus by just playing the affected frequency, what then? Doctors have experimented with using “white noise” to create sounds on all frequencies rather than just the one frequency that is affected with quite a bit of success. This way the brain hears sounds equally across all frequencies, affecting all parts of the brain. The affected areas are part of the white noise, so they hear actual sounds and the random, spontaneous noise stops showing up as often. Also, if you are hearing a lot of random noise then painful tinnitus gets lost in the noise.
This is good news for tinnitus sufferers because now they have a solution that can help them get better. But even white noise treatment has a major drawback: who wants to listen to white noise all day?