The use of hearing aids or hearing devices has been shown to help reduce tinnitus. According to a study conducted by Sergei Kochkin (Ph.D.) and Richard Tyler (Ph.D.), 60% of 230 surveyed patients experienced some relief from their tinnitus through the use of hearing aids alone. These devices are often used in conjunction with Sound Therapy and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) to assist in the management and control of tinnitus. In this guide, we will cover how the use of hearing aids or hearing devices can help you or your loved ones manage tinnitus and hearing loss.
About 20 percent of the adult population will report some sort of hearing loss at any given point in time. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders claims that about 36 million American adults experience hearing loss. Unfortunately, only a small fraction will ever get the sort of lasting relief they need. Tinnitus is one of the most common hearing issues people experience (though it’s a symptom, not an independent condition), yet Tinnitus is often ignored for many years on end.
The search for the best treatments for tinnitus, which can cause people to regularly hear buzzing or ringing in their ears, has caused a substantial amount of debate among audiologists, ENTs, and other professionals. Tinnitus is a complicated symptom that can have many different underlying causes. The tinnitus treatments that make the most sense for one individual may not be what works best for another. Because this hearing issue is so distinctively personal, you will want to be sure to choose an audiologist that offers evidence-based, personalized treatments.
Do Hearing Aids Help Treat Tinnitus?
Hearing aids are a great starting point for tinnitus sufferers that also have hearing loss. In such cases, hearing aids can help tinnitus patients. Usually, these will be the individuals who are having difficulty hearing external sounds at a desirable volume and are hoping for those sounds to be amplified.
Hearing aids help many people with tinnitus, though they will not be effective for everybody. Still, when combined with sound therapy and other hearing strategies, a comprehensive treatment plan can create highly desirable outcomes.
According to one of the top hearing centers in the nation, “only 50 percent of people living with tinnitus experience hearing loss that affects their understanding of speech, which means hearing aids are [often] ineffective.” If the hearing issue is not connected to how you interpret the outside world, then hearing aids will not be the best solution available. After all, for many people, it is the buzzing, hissing, and ringing—not the mere inability to hear—that causes tinnitus to be such an unbearable symptom.
When this is the case, you will want to choose an audiologist that allows you to further explore your options. In most cases, your audiologist will recommend a combination of tinnitus treatments that may include sound therapy, sound maskers, counseling, medication, and others. A multi-disciplinary approach involving several medical providers may be necessary with more severe cases of tinnitus.
What Are Some of the Other Tinnitus Treatment Options Available?
Because tinnitus is relatively common, researchers everywhere are constantly looking for new ways to treat it. Choosing a hearing center that uses a tested, evidence-based approach will help increase the likelihood of having a successful recovery.
One of the most effective forms of tinnitus treatment is sound therapy. As the term implies, sound therapy helps “rehabilitate” your auditory system and change the way you hear the world around you. Sound therapy will often involve various exercises that can help retrain your brain and begin to gradually reduce the intensity of tinnitus. While the relief it provides may not always be immediate, most patients will report positive progress after just a few months. It is also important to note that while the two are only sometimes used in conjunction with one another, sound therapy and hearing aids are not mutually exclusive.
Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT)
TRT uses sound therapy and directive counseling over 12 – 24 months to properly deal with the three systems involved: the auditory system (hearing), the limbic system (emotions), and the autonomic nervous system (flight or fight response).
Widex Tinnitus Treatment
One type of sound therapy used in TRT is called the Widex Tinnitus Treatment. The Widex Zen program involves several different pleasing “Zen” tones that are programmed based on the patient’s hearing curve. These tones rely on fractal technology to help create a soothing backdrop that is randomized but somewhat predictable. The Zen tones help distract away from the tinnitus while also being relaxing to hear.
Other TRT options
Many other hearing device manufacturers including Oticon, ReSound, and Starkey have sound therapy options for tinnitus using different sounds making it easy for patients to “ease the effects of tinnitus.” Like the Widex Tinnitus Treatment, patients can control which sounds they are hearing throughout the training session. These tools are designed to not only provide temporary relief from tinnitus but to provide lasting relief in the future.
Sound Maskers (White Noise)
Sound maskers might mask a person’s tinnitus using white noise, but they are NOT effective in providing long-term benefits. Maskers may be used for short-term use to cover up the problem of tinnitus. However, for a long-term solution, the brain must “see” the tinnitus in order to reclassify it as neutral and desensitize to its presence and impact.
Should I Schedule an Appointment with an Audiologist?
If you are experiencing symptoms of tinnitus and have never met with an audiologist, now may be the perfect time to schedule your first appointment. Many people are completely unaware of how much better the world can sound until they are introduced to some of the technologies and treatments currently available. You should also schedule an appointment with an audiologist if you are suffering from tinnitus, hyperacusis, or any other debilitating hearing issue. These issues are much more treatable than many people initially assume. If you saw an audiologist a few years ago and did not the answers you were looking for, you should revisit the idea knowing that technology has improved and there are now more options than ever before to help patients with tinnitus and other hearing-related issues.
Conclusion – Can Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?
In the complex world of hearing, the need for personalized hearing solutions is undeniable. When it comes to tinnitus, many people will benefit from the use of hearing aids or hearing devices, while others may need a more in-depth approach to tinnitus treatment such as TRT.
If you are unsure which course of treatment is right for you, make an appointment with the experts at Sound Relief Hearing Center. Get a personalized approach and discover how you can start improving your life. No tinnitus treatment team is ranked higher or referred with more confidence. For more information visit our website or call (720) 259-9962.