Can Hearing Aids Relieve Tinnitus Symptoms?
Tinnitus is a health condition that causes individuals to hear sounds that have no physical basis. For example, an individual who has been diagnosed with tinnitus will hear sounds that are not caused by external sources. The condition is relatively common, affecting around 15 percent of the US population.
In this piece, we’ll discuss both the symptoms of tinnitus, as well as the potential relief hearing aids can provide for those with the condition.
The symptoms of tinnitus
The primary symptom of tinnitus is hearing sounds that have no physical basis. While tinnitus is particularly well-associated with ringing sounds – the condition is often referred to as simply ringing in the ears – people with tinnitus can experience a range of different sounds, including – but not limited to – the following:
In the vast majority of cases, people with tinnitus only hear sounds intermittently. However, some people may find that they hear sounds almost constantly, though the volume and intensity may wax and wane.
In addition to hearing sounds, many people with tinnitus experience secondary symptoms, which can include the following:
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
The symptoms of tinnitus can be incredibly difficult to live with. People with tinnitus tend to struggle to focus due to the sounds they are subjected to and their ability to sleep can also be impacted significantly. While tinnitus is not a dangerous condition, the impact it can have on well-being and general health is significant and thus people with tinnitus are encouraged to seek treatment as soon as possible.
How is tinnitus treated?
In some cases, tinnitus is a secondary symptom of an underlying illness – hypertension, for example, can cause tinnitus. In these cases, the treatment and management will primarily focus on curing the underlying condition.
However, often tinnitus presents as a condition in and of itself, with no underlying cause to treat. In these cases, there is a range of options available, including medication and psychotherapy, though the success rates of these treatments can vary. As a result, most people with tinnitus opt for a simple treatment that has been shown to produce excellent results in the past: hearing aids.
How can hearing aids help people with tinnitus?
First and foremost, it is important to note that tinnitus often occurs alongside hearing loss. While the two conditions are not inseparable, it is not thought that either condition causes the other; a link has, however, been long established.
If you are experiencing both tinnitus and hearing loss, then your audiologist will almost certainly recommend you opt for a hearing aid with tinnitus-masking capabilities. These devices seek to treat both conditions simultaneously: the hearing aid produces amplification, which effectively treats hearing loss and also includes tinnitus-masking features.
Tinnitus masking is a relatively simple idea that has nevertheless come to be seen as arguably the single most effective treatment for tinnitus. Essentially, the core purpose of the software is to drown the tinnitus sounds out. A hearing aid with tinnitus-masking capabilities will continually play a low sound, which helps to distract the wearer and allows them to ignore their tinnitus completely – in time, most people who use such a device will entirely cease to notice tinnitus noises. The concept is similar to the idea that using a white noise machine will help you sleep by ensuring you do not notice other noises that may be present in the room.
Does tinnitus masking work?
While it is impossible to say that wearing a hearing aid with tinnitus-masking feature will definitely alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus, the treatment is overwhelmingly successful in a majority of cases. After an initial adjustment phase, individuals find that they quickly learn to ignore their tinnitus outright thanks to the masking function, which greatly improves their quality of life.
How is tinnitus treated if someone does not have hearing loss?
Even if your audiologist has confirmed you are not experiencing hearing loss, then you can benefit from a hearing aid with a tinnitus-masking feature. In such a scenario, no amplification will be provided by the device, but the tinnitus-masking feature works to produce a constant, low sound that serves as an effective distraction from tinnitus sounds.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of tinnitus or have been previously diagnosed with the condition and are seeking an effective treatment, then opting for a hearing aid with tinnitus-masking capabilities is sure to be the right choice for you. To discuss your individual needs in more detail, contact The Center for Audiology at one of our two locations: