If you suffer from tinnitus — a constant or near-constant ringing or buzzing in your ears—you've probably already tried various home remedies and "tried and true" tips to rid yourself of this irritating sound. Unfortunately, the causes of (and effective treatments for) tinnitus can vary widely. Learn more about the role hearing aids can play in resolving your tinnitus symptoms.
Why Can Hearing Aids Treat Tinnitus?
You may not associate your tinnitus with the hearing loss that usually prompts the use of hearing aids. But if your tinnitus interferes with your ability to watch television, hold a conversation, or just enjoy the sounds of everyday life, it is a hearing problem, even if not specifically hearing loss.
Hearing aids can reduce the impact your tinnitus has by amplifying background noise. This helps turn the ringing or buzzing you always hear into just another background noise that can be tuned out. Over time, your brain will learn to stop concentrating on your tinnitus, essentially eliminating it from your conscious thought. Many tinnitus patients report at least some relief with hearing aids, while others have significant relief.
Some audiologists believe that by increasing the volume of the other background or ambient noises you hear, hearing aids can improve the auditory stimulation your brain experiences, helping improve your communication over time.
What Types of Hearing Aids Work Best for Tinnitus Relief?
The right hearing aid for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your lifestyle, the severity of your tinnitus, your budget, and your overall health. For many people, digital hearing aids that fit inside the ear are all that is needed. These hearing aids can be connected to a phone or tablet app that allows you to control volume, check battery levels, and make any other adjustments needed for function or comfort.
In other cases, particularly if the tinnitus is associated with a traumatic brain injury or other hearing loss, a permanent cochlear implant is a better choice. This implant helps send signals to your brain to interpret what you're hearing. Many people who were once profoundly deaf can regain some hearing function through the use of a cochlear implant.
Whichever type of hearing aid you decide on, the more consistently you wear it during your waking hours, the more effective it will be. Because of this, it's important to work with an audiologist who can recommend a hearing aid you'll be happy to wear.