Can Hearing Aids Relieve Tinnitus Symptoms?
Tinnitus is a symptom that can plague those afflicted with it for years. It can be both an audiological and neurological condition that can present intermittently, persistently, at varying intensities, over the years. It is as varied as it is a hindrance for those who have it. As such, audiologists are eager to try and help those living with tinnitus find a solution, and there are different approaches out there. You may have heard that hearing aids are a possible solution. Here, we’re going to look more closely at tinnitus and how hearing aids may be able to help with it.
Rather than being a condition in-and-of-itself, tinnitus is the medical term used to describe a symptom; namely the symptom of experiencing noises and sounds that have no apparent external source. Only the sufferer can hear the sounds of tinnitus, which usually present as a ringing, but can be anything from hissing to chirping to whistling. Some people hear tinnitus in rhythm with their heartbeat, while others hear it in the form of a tune. It’s a widely diverse symptom that can be mild and intermittent or severe and persistent.
The exact cause of tinnitus hasn’t been found yet, but potential causes range from exposure to loud noises, hearing loss, aging, certain medications, certain dental conditions (such as jaw misalignment), hypertension, and so on. As varied as it is, there is no one cure for tinnitus. It can sometimes go away on its own, but many look for treatment to help manage or acclimate to it, so it has less an impact on their sleep, ability to concentrate, and mental health.
Can hearing aids help treat tinnitus?
Whether or not hearing aids are the right fit for treating your tinnitus depends. If you suffer from tinnitus that is linked to hearing loss, then correcting that hearing loss may also help to reduce your tinnitus over time. Many patients will confess that hearing aids, especially bilateral hearing aids (one in each ear) are more effective than just wearing one, too.
Many hearing aids come with features specifically designed to fight the manifestation of tinnitus, as well. For instance, some come with a sound generator or sound masking features. As well as amplifying external noises, these devices produce low-frequency sounds that can potentially help “drown out” the tinnitus. It is sometimes used as part of the habituation process, during which the aim is to help the patient get as used to tinnitus as possible so that it has less of an effect on their daily life.
Selecting a hearing aid to help your tinnitus
Regardless of whether or not a hearing aid is the best solution for you, the first and best step in fighting tinnitus is to get your audiologist involved. They could potentially find issues that may be causing or contributing to the symptom, such as hearing loss or Meniere’s disease. From there, they can help you select hearing aids or sound masking devices based on your hearing needs. Over time, they can help you get used to the hearing device and adjust the sound generation features to help find those that best help combat your tinnitus.
Other forms of treatment for tinnitus
Whether or not the hearing aid helps you get used to or diminish the manifestation of tinnitus, there may be other treatments that your audiologist could recommend to combat it as well. Some treatments are designed to fight tinnitus directly, while others also take into account the mental and emotional impact tinnitus can have. These include:
- Earwax removal
- Treating underlying vascular conditions
- Changes to your medication
- Using a white noise machine
- Tinnitus retraining
- Support and education about the condition
As tinnitus can be so varied, it should not be a surprise that one type of treatment may not work as well for you as it does for other people. However, the best way to find that which does work is to go through the options with your audiologist.
Finding the right approach to tinnitus
As complex and as hard to pin down at tinnitus can be, hearing aids may be an effective solution, but there is no guarantee that it will work. Different approaches work for different people. The best way to find which works for you is to arrange an appointment with your audiologist at Hearing Health Care. You can learn more about how we can help and begin finding the best treatment plan for you by calling our Myrtle Beach office at 843-497-8158 or our Conway office at 843-488-2717.