Best Hearing Aids for Tinnitus
The US Centers for Disease Control estimate that 15 percent of the population experience some form of tinnitus – yet despite its prevalence, general knowledge of tinnitus and how it can be managed is relatively unknown. Below, we at Hear For You Hearing & Balance Center have sought to provide a thorough background overview of tinnitus, how it can be treated and how tinnitus hearing aids may be the best choice for managing the condition.
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition that causes an individual to hear sounds that are not actually physically present.
What sounds do people hear?
It varies among individuals, but tinnitus sounds are often described as whistling, ringing, hissing or beeping.
Who experiences tinnitus?
Anyone can experience tinnitus at any time in their lives, though the condition is more common among older people. Also, those whose work involves being exposed to loud noises are also more liable to experience tinnitus; Michael Stipe of REM, for example, has spent his life near loudspeakers when playing concerts and has spoken at length about the impact tinnitus has had on his life.
What causes tinnitus?
The causes vary among individuals.
- For most people, tinnitus is part of the natural aging process. As we age, we lose vital sensory hair cells in the inner ear; as this happens, tinnitus becomes more likely.
- As mentioned above, exposure to loud noise – particularly over a prolonged period of time – has been linked to the likelihood of developing the condition.
- Tinnitus can be caused by embedded earwax in the ear canal.
- Tinnitus is also a symptom of some health conditions not related to the ear, such as B12 deficiency.
- Finally, it is worth noting that an individual can experience tinnitus for no discernible reason.
How is tinnitus treated?
If a person is experiencing tinnitus, they should first visit a medical professional in order to rule out underlying causes or illnesses. If there is an underlying cause, this illness – rather than the tinnitus – will be the target for treatment and tinnitus symptoms should alleviate as a result of treatment.
If tinnitus has been caused by embedded earwax, then earwax can be removed by a medical professional. When the blockage is cleared, most people find that their tinnitus symptoms dissipate.
Tinnitus that is due to aging or prolonged exposure to loud noise, however, is often more difficult to treat. For most people in this bracket, tinnitus tends to be managed rather than treated – the condition is rarely “cured,” but its impact can be reduced. One of the most common methods for managing the condition is the use of hearing aids with tinnitus masking functionality.
How can hearing aids help tinnitus?
Most people see hearing aids as a treatment for hearing loss, which is understandable given that this is their primary purpose. However, hearing aids can also be used to help treat tinnitus, regardless of whether or not the person also experiences hearing loss.
Tinnitus hearing aids have a particular functionality known as “tinnitus masking.” Tinnitus masking involves an individual wearing a hearing aid, but rather than amplifying existing sounds, the hearing aids emits new sounds – most commonly, broadband or narrow-band noise, usually at low levels.
Admittedly, the idea of a device emitting new noises to someone who is already hearing too many noises may seem odd – but the noise the device emits tends to act as a masking sound for the noise of tinnitus. As the person is continually experiencing the noise from their device, they are less likely to notice tinnitus-related sounds. The experience is akin to using a white noise machine to drown out traffic sounds.
Doesn’t additional sound emitted by a hearing aid create a new problem?
No. The sound emitted by tinnitus hearing aids is specifically formulated to be unobtrusive. While you may need a few days to adapt to such a device, in time, it’s unlikely you will notice it at all.
Do tinnitus hearing aids work?
Yes. Most people find that they notice tinnitus-related sounds far less when wearing a device.
Which hearing aids include tinnitus masking?
Tinnitus masking is a feature on a wide variety of hearing aids. Your hearing care professional or audiologist will be able to advise you on which device may be suitable for your specific needs.
Can tinnitus hearing aids also assist with hearing loss?
Yes, suitable devices can be multifunctional, providing the amplification required for successful treatment of hearing loss in addition to the masking function that tinnitus requires.
For more information on tinnitus hearing aids, please contact Hear For You Hearing & Balance Center, LLC at (401) 475-6116. We look forward to assisting you further in the future.