Can hearing aids really help tinnitus?
If you’ve ever left a live concert only to spend the rest of the evening battling a ringing sound in your ears, then you already know what tinnitus is.
However, for millions of people around the world, this phenomenon exists outside of an evening of loud music. And for these people, tinnitus can be a debilitating experience – one that can affect their moods, relationships and life. That’s when hearing aids for tinnitus can help.
Tinnitus is mostly referred to as a ringing in one or both of your ears, but it can also manifest as a humming, hissing, buzzing or high-pitched sound. Sometimes, people with tinnitus experience a pulsating or throbbing sensation, known as pulsatile tinnitus.
Tinnitus can sound like many different things, but the true definition is that it’s a perception of sounds that don’t exist.
What are the causes of tinnitus?
Tinnitus seems to be caused by a variety of things, from a change of information to the brain – a sudden loud sound for example – to an ear infection or a reaction to medication. There isn’t one clear answer.
Can tinnitus cause hearing loss?
Because tinnitus can be caused by the same damage to the hair cells in the cochlea as a hearing loss, many people experience both at the same time. It’s understandable then why people assume they’re connected. But tinnitus can’t cause hearing loss, and hearing loss treatments, like hearing aids, can’t cause tinnitus. In fact, hearing aids can actually help manage symptoms.
What is the best treatment for tinnitus?
What works best depends on what might have caused your tinnitus and your lifestyle. If tinnitus is making it hard for you to fall asleep, you can try keeping a fan, humidifier or other machine that produces white noise in your bedroom.
But if chronic tinnitus is affecting your concentration at work or making you withdraw from social situations, a hearing aid might be the best relief for your tinnitus.
How hearing aids help tinnitus
Hearing aids can’t cure tinnitus – nothing can, really – but they can block it by adding sounds to the sound you already hear.
It sounds counterintuitive, but by playing a soothing sound like white noise or the ocean, a hearing aid can help move your attention away from your tinnitus.
Imagine you’re in a room and one person is talking. You can hear them clearly and it might be hard to focus on something else. Now imagine that room is filled with lots of people all having separate conversations. It’s harder to single out that one person’s voice and the collective sound can fade into the background.
This way of adding noise is called sound therapy, and it’s an effective way to relieve the symptoms of tinnitus. You can find out more about this here.
Which type of hearing aid is best for helping with tinnitus?
Any hearing aid that supports a tinnitus relief package can be used to help manage the symptoms of tinnitus, including behind-the-ear and in-the-ear models.
We have a wide range that’s designed to fit every need, though which type is right for you is down to personal preference. A hearing care professional can always help and give advice.
What else can help stop tinnitus?
Sometimes ceasing certain medications or removing ear wax can help ease tinnitus, but only if the tinnitus was caused by them in the first place.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for tinnitus. It works by addressing a person’s reaction to tinnitus, reducing or correcting a negative response to the sound. It is performed by trained professionals including psychologists, counselors and mental health providers.i
Tinnitus can sometimes be caused by stress, so mindful exercises that reduce it, like yoga and meditation, have proven to be effective in offering relief.ii
Diet can also have an impact on your symptoms. Some people with tinnitus have unique food triggers, like caffeine or alcohol, but studies have shown that overall, a high-fat diet can increase the odds of tinnitus.iii
How to seek treatment for tinnitus with hearing aids
If you or someone you love is suffering with tinnitus, it’s a good idea to contact a hearing care professional who can help advise on your treatment options and which hearing aid is best for your tinnitus.
Find a hearing care professional near you
iCima, R. F. F, van Breukelen, G., Vlaeyen, J. W. S. (2018). Tinnitus-related fear: Mediating the effects of a cognitive behavioural specialised tinnitus treatment, Hearing Research, Volume 358, 2018, Pages 86-97, ISSN 0378-5955
iiGunjawate DR, Ravi R. Effect of yoga and meditation on tinnitus: a systematic review. J Laryngol Otol. 2021 Apr;135(4):284-287. doi: 10.1017/S0022215121000566. Epub 2021 Mar 11. PMID: 33691808.
iiiChristopher Spankovich at al. (2017) Relationship between dietary quality, tinnitus and hearing level: data from the national health and nutrition examination survey, 1999–2002.