Hearing Aids and Tinnitus
While much research has been undertaken in the last few years, tinnitus is still a little-understood condition. However, we do understand that the impact of tinnitus can range from mildly irritating to devastating. While an effective cure has evaded medical science, we do know that there are several treatments that can work very effectively. One of those treatments is hearing aids, and they can work very well in specific circumstances. Let me explain.
Will Hearing Aids Help My Tinnitus?
I am often asked that question in consultation, the answer at the beginning is they might, but it depends. The first question to be answered is the underlying cause of the tinnitus, our search usually begins with an evaluation of hearing. If I find there is a hearing loss, well then I can usually answer that first question with a relatively assured yes, yes hearing aids may well help with your tinnitus.
How Do Hearing Aids Relieve Tinnitus?
In cases where tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss, treatment of that hearing loss with hearing aids would normally reduce or eliminate the perception of tinnitus. While the action is not clearly or fully understood, the theory is clear. The tinnitus is a symptom of the underlying hearing loss, and therefore, when the hearing loss is treated, the tinnitus consequently fades.
Tinnitus Caused by Hearing Loss
As I have said elsewhere on this site, tinnitus is always a symptom of some underlying problem. It is not a disease in itself. The belief is that in the case of hearing loss, tinnitus is an action of understimulated neurons in the auditory brain centre.
So the sound is all in your head, but that does not mean you are imagining it
The hearing loss starves the neurons of stimulation, and for some reason, they either become stimulated by something else or become overactive. This manifests itself as a sound that only the person can hear. So the sound is all in your head, but that does not mean you are imagining it.
When hearing aids are worn, those neglected brain centres are stimulated by sound that is amplified by the devices. This ensures that the overactivity or stimulation by something else is eliminated. Therefore the perception of tinnitus is reduced or eliminated.
Does it Always Work?
Generally yes, for most people the perception of tinnitus is reduced or eliminated. For some though, it doesn't have the required effect. More often than not, the reason for this is that the affected areas causing the perception of tinnitus are at a higher frequency than the hearing aids work at.
All is Not Lost
All is not lost for people like this, the hearing aids combined with sound therapy can often help them to reduce the impact of their tinnitus. Tinnitus can be a curse, but there are effective treatments for the condition. If you have ringing, buzzing or whistling in your ears that you are worried about, attend a hearing healthcare professional near you to find out what treatment may be suitable for you.
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Posted by Geoff
Geoffrey (Geoff, anything else makes him nervous) Cooling is an Irish hearing aid blogger and has been involved with the hearing aid industry for over ten years. He has worked in private practice dispensing hearing aids and as a manufacturer's rep. He has written two books and they are both available on Amazon. He loves technology, passing on knowledge and is legendary for many other things, primarily the amount he curses, his dry and mischievous sense of humour and his complete intolerance of people who are full of themselves. Please feel free to connect with him
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