Tinnitus is a condition characterized by a phantom ringing, roaring, hissing, whistling, buzzing or humming sound with no external sound source. Approximately 50 million Americans experience tinnitus, and it is different for everybody, varying in which ear(s) are affected and the severity.
While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are a number of treatment options available. One of them is hearing aids.
What Causes Tinnitus?
The reason tinnitus can be treated with hearing aids is because tinnitus and hearing loss often share a common cause.
Within the inner ears are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These hair cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as sound.
When dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, it can damage or destroy these cells. Damage to the cells cause them to “leak” sound signals, triggering tinnitus. When the cells are destroyed, the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss.
How Do Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing aids work by amplifying sounds in the environment to a level the inner ear can detect.
When you’re fit with your first pair of hearing aids, you’ll probably be shocked at all the sounds you were missing, like background conversations at Boulevard Bistro, the chirping of birds and hum of the refrigerator.
These new sounds essentially work as tinnitus maskers, as they drown out the sounds of your tinnitus and distract you from the remaining sounds.
How Effective Are Hearing Aids for Tinnitus?
Researchers worked with 30 participants who had bothersome tinnitus and were hearing aid candidates but had not used devices over the previous 12 months. The participants’ tinnitus severity was evaluated using the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) questionnaire once before wearing hearing aids, then again after three months of hearing aid usage.
The participants were then assigned to one of two groups: one who wore traditional hearing aids and one who wore combination devices that included tinnitus maskers.
The researchers found that both groups exhibited significant improvement, but the group who wore combination devices had slightly more improvement.
For more information about tinnitus masking devices or to talk with a tinnitus expert, schedule an appointment with Elk Grove Hearing Care today!
Learn More About Hearing Aids
- Is a Cochlear Implant Right for You?
- Do You Need Waterproof Hearing Aids?
- What Is a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid?