Tinnitus is a condition commonly referred to as ringing in the ears, and it affects more than 50 million Americans to some degree. Instead of a ringing sensation, some people may be aware of it as a buzzing, whistling, chirping, or hissing sound, and it can be intermittent or continuous, louder or softer from one person to the next.
There are many different causes for tinnitus, the most common of which is exposure over a prolonged period to loud noises, or a single extremely loud noise like an explosion or gunshot.
Tinnitus is usually accompanied by some degree of hearing loss. In some cases it is severe enough that people can have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and performing daily tasks at work or at home.
How Hearing Aids Can Help
Hearing aids can help overcome the problems caused by tinnitus in several ways. First of all, a hearing aid can reduce the sensation that sounds and voices are being muffled by amplifying the sound reaching the ear. Because tinnitus often involves hearing loss, the reduction of auditory input to the ear can have the effect of altering the functionality of auditory pathway structures. With auditory input increased by the hearing aid, neural function can be restored, providing long-term positive benefits.
A secondary benefit of using hearing aids as a means of managing tinnitus is that the person wearing the hearing aid becomes much less aware of the ringing sounds, and in some cases people will experience complete relief from the constant or intermittent ringing sound.
To achieve the most favorable results with hearing aids, both ears should be fitted with an open ear aid having the broadest amplification band, and no noise reduction controls (or disabled noise reduction controls). It is important to note that in every case, the hearing aid should be customized to the needs of the wearer, because the nature of the tinnitus is different for every person. Once installed, hearing aids can be fine-tuned to provide the best relief for the individual, whether that involves masking, retraining, or other sound therapies.
There are many manufacturers who offer hearing aids specifically designed for use in managing tinnitus, including Oticon, Starkey, Widex, and Lyric. When combined with therapy and counseling, they can effectively combat the hearing loss and the ringing or hissing sounds experienced by the user.
Through customization and counseling, the effects of stress, sleep loss, and other impacts on the lives of those suffering from tinnitus can be largely overcome. Contact us to learn more and get real relief from tinnitus!