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Do hearing aids really help tinnitus?

Aug 23, 2023 Olive UnionCooperation
Do hearing aids really help tinnitus?

A woman in her mid-30s sitting in the examination chair for an ear examination by an otolaryngologist

Are you experiencing ringing in your ears, buzzing sounds, whistling like the wind, steam escaping, or even ocean wave sounds on a daily basis? If so, you're likely dealing with tinnitus. From determining whether you're truly experiencing tinnitus to exploring treatment methods, this article covers everything in detail.  


 ear graphic image is listening the soundwave in blue background

What is tinnitus?

  Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the absence of any external auditory stimuli. To put it simple, if you have tinnitus, you are likely to hear ringing, buzzing, hissing, clicking, or other similar sounds without any other external sound. Tinnitus can either worsen or improve based on how you handle it.
This post will also discuss ways to effectively manage tinnitus.

  Do you know that there are two types of tinnitus?
If you are the only one who hears weird noises, your hearing loss is likely to be 'Subjective tinnitus'. 'Subjective tinnitus' is the most common type and is only perceived by the person experiencing it. It's often associated with hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, ear infections, and certain medical conditions.
The other type of tinnitus is 'objective tinnitus' and can be heard not just by the person with tinnitus but also by others, such as a doctor during an examination. Objective tinnitus is usually caused by physical factors like blood vessel disorders, muscle contractions, or problems with the bones in the middle ear. Let's explore whether your hearing loss is truly subjective tinnitus with the help of the symptom checklist below.


 a patient with blue tshirt is meeting young female doctor

What are the symptoms of tinnitus?

  The symptoms of subjective tinnitus are as follows. However, keep in mind that tinnitus can vary widely in its presentation from person to person.

  Not all of the conditions below need to apply for it to be considered tinnitus, and if you resonate with some of these, it's recommended to consult an otolaryngologist soon.

1. Hearing high-pitched tone or a low, humming noise such as ringing or buzzing sounds.
2. Hearing hissing or whistling sound such as wind blowing or steam escaping.
3. Hearing clicking or pulsing sound similar to the ticking of a clock or rhythm of a heartbeat.
4. Hearing deep, low-frequency roaring sound, similar to the sound of ocean waves.
5. Feeling ear fullness, dizziness, or discomfort in the ears.
6. There are times when external sounds are not easily heard due to tinnitus.
7. The duration and intensity of tinnitus worsen when having trouble sleeping or experiencing high levels of stress.

Tinnitus can persist for extended periods or occur for brief durations, yet even when tinnitus lasts for a short time, it doesn't necessarily mean it's not concerning.
Since tinnitus is not a disease itself but rather a symptom of an underlying issue, usually related to the auditory system. In short, tinnitus is a alarm that your auditory system is in danger. If you ignore that sign, there might be a possibility of something bad happening where won't be able to hear sounds forever.

An elderly person with grey hair and glasses is wearing one hearing aid on his ear

What is the best treatment for tinnitus?

Removing physical causes (earwax blockage, ear infection) : You can Safely removing earwax at an otolaryngology clinic or diligently manage and keep the affected area dry in case of infection, and if improvement doesn't occur, visiting an otolaryngologist for a proper prescription of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory agents.
Sound therapy : You've probably experienced a moment when the ticking sound of a clock, which can sensitize the nerves, goes unheard when you're focused. This treatment is exactly based on that principle. Sound therapy is based on the idea that by introducing pleasant and neutral sounds into the environment, the brain's focus on the tinnitus sound can be reduced, leading to decreased annoyance and distress associated with tinnitus. ** Recently, hearing aids are offering customers the opportunity for sound therapy through apps at no cost.
Counseling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)/ Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)/ Biofeedback : These methods provide you with psychological strategies to cope with and manage the intrusive sounds of tinnitus. Instead of directly improving the tinnitus itself, they teach you how to adapt to it and effectively manage the stress and anxiety it may cause through counseling. In essence, it's about learning techniques to handle the psychological impact of tinnitus and adapt to its presence.
Hearing aids : If the above treatments were simply aimed at improving tinnitus, this approach could be considered a way to address the underlying issues. As mentioned earlier, tinnitus is often a symptom of hearing loss. In other words, if hearing loss, a more serious issue than tinnitus, is treated, tinnitus might naturally subside. Additionally, the fact that many hearing aids offer sound therapy for free is a factor that makes hearing aids a primary consideration among tinnitus treatment methods.

Can hearing aids really help tinnitus?

  Yes, it really helps tinnitus get better. Here are reasons why the hearing aids make tinnitus get better.

 Amplification of External Sounds: Hearing aids enhance the perception of external sounds, which can help individuals shift their focus away from the tinnitus. Just like you cannot hear ticking sound of clock when you are fully focus on what the person sitting right in front of you is saying, the noise of tinnitus would become less noticeable.

Masking Effect: The amplification of external sounds provided by hearing aids can act as a form of masking, partially or completely covering up the tinnitus sound. This masking effect can make the tinnitus less prominent and bothersome.

Brain Stimulation: Aging is the most dominant cause of hearing loss, and that means there are chances that brain stimulation is insufficient. Unfortunately, a decrease in brain stimulation can trigger or accelerate dementia.
Hearing aids provide consistent auditory stimulation, which can help keep the brain engaged and less focused on the tinnitus sound.

Sound Therapy Features: Many modern hearing aids are equipped with built-in sound therapy features at no cost. These features provide customizable and soothing sounds that can help mask the tinnitus and provide relief, especially in quiet environments or during bedtime.