by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
Since no one tinnitus treatment program works for everyone, over the years researchers have developed a variety of different tinnitus treatment protocols. Each of these work for some people—perhaps someone with a specific kind of tinnitus—and maybe not for everyone else. One such treatment protocol is the “Phase-Out” tinnitus reduction system.
This tinnitus treatment system may work for you if your tinnitus meets these three requirements. First, you have subjective tinnitus. Second, your tinnitus remains at a constant pitch (single frequency). Third, your tinnitus remains at a constant volume. Fortunately, about 76% of the people with subjective tinnitus do have mono-frequency tinnitus, so there is a good chance this protocol might work for you.
The “Phase-Out” treatment protocol works on the same basic principle as some fancy noise-reduction ear-protectors. Here’s how they work. A microphone on the ear-protector detects a loud sound. Electronic circuitry in the ear-protector instantly generates a sound equal in both pitch and volume, but exactly 180° out of phase. It then feeds both of these signals into your ears, but since they are 180° out of phase with each other, the loud sound (positive peak) is canceled out by the phase-shifted sound (negative peak), and thus you don’t hear anything.
Mathematically, this is the same as adding +100 and -100 together. The result, of course, is zero—in other words, no sound.
In the “Phase-Out” protocol, first you carefully set the frequency on the “Phase-Out” unit to exactly match the frequency of your tinnitus. Second, you adjust the volume on the “Phase-Out” unit to exactly match the volume of your tinnitus. The “Phase-Out” unit then sequentially shifts the frequency by 6° every 30 seconds. Thus, you have to listen to this for 30 minutes to complete one cycle.
I’m not sure why they sequentially shift the frequency by 6° every 30 seconds, instead of leaving it at 180° out of phase all the time, but when you do this properly, according to the laws of mathematics, one-third of the time the signal will be such that it should cancel out your tinnitus.
After listening to the “Phase-Out” reduction treatment sounds, you may discover that your tinnitus either partially or completely disappears. This phenomenon is known as residual inhibition. Phase-shift tinnitus reduction treatments can produce relatively long-term residual inhibition. Your residual inhibition may last from a few minutes, to a few hours and up to several weeks. The average is for this residual inhibition to last about one week.
When your residual inhibition wears off, you simply sit down and listen to your special phase-shifted frequency sounds for another 30 minutes a few times a week.
How well does this phase-shift tinnitus reduction program work for people that meet the tinnitus criteria? Some studies reveal that between 83% and 91% of them experience a significant reduction (defined as 6 dB or greater) or a complete cessation of their tinnitus for a period of time.
The “Phase-Out” program is not exactly cheap, but you may find it worth it. The initial consultation and first three treatments cost $900.00. Then, if this therapy appears to work for you, you can purchase a patient treatment device so you can treat yourself at home whenever your tinnitus comes back. This device will set you back another $2300.00. That’s a fair amount of dollars, in addition to travel and accommodation costs in New York city where the treatment facility is.
Now for some good news. They have made an app to do the same thing as the expensive patient treatment device. Thus, if you have an Apple (or Android) smart phone you can get the “Phase-Out” mobile app and do this treatment yourself and save yourself a bundle of money. The “Phase-Out” mobile app is only $9.99.
There is no guarantee that the “Phase-Out” treatment will work for you, but for $10.00 you may think it is worth a try. I have not tried this myself, so if you try it, I’d love to hear of your experiences.
Update: March, 2021. The Phase-Out system is no longer available. I guess it didn’t work for enough people and probably the price was too high. But it was an interesting concept.