HEARING TIPS

How Hearing Aids Help Treat Tinnitus

Woman holding hand to head in pain

In the US, tinnitus affects 20 percent of the entire population, and hearing loss exists in 90 percent of those cases.

With such a deep connection between tinnitus and hearing loss, you would think people would be more likely to seek treatment for one or both conditions.

But believe it or not we find the reverse. Of those who pass up treatment for hearing loss, 39 percent (9 million people) do so because they believe that nothing can be done about their tinnitus.

That’s 9 million people that are suffering unnecessarily when a treatment method exists that could both augment hearing and alleviate tinnitus simultaneously.

That treatment method is the professional fitting of hearing aids.

In a recent survey of hearing health specialists, it was found that 60 percent of patients reported some level of tinnitus relief when wearing hearing aids, while 22 percent claimed substantial relief.

Based on these numbers, if the 9 million who have given up on tinnitus used hearing aids, 5.4 million would achieve some extent of relief and about 2 million would realize significant relief.

But how do hearing aids alleviate the intensity of tinnitus?

The scientific agreement is that hearing loss triggers reduced sound stimulation reaching the brain. In reaction, the brain undergoes maladaptive neurological changes that result in the perception of sound when no exterior sound source is present.

It’s this subjective nature that renders tinnitus so challenging to diagnose and treat, and why medications or surgical procedures tend to have little to no impact. There’s simply no physical structure to repair or chemistry to alter.

But there is a way to reach the perception of sound, a way to help the brain adjust or reverse its response to decreased sound stimulation.

With hearing aids, amplified sound can help readjust the brain to normal levels of sound stimulation and at the same time supply a masking effect for the sounds of tinnitus.

For people with hearing loss, tinnitus is more disturbing because the tinnitus is louder relative to the volume of external sound. By turning up the volume on external sound, tinnitus can vanish into the background.

In addition, some hearing aids can furnish sound therapy directly to the user, which can be customized for each person.

Hearing aids, coupled with sound and behavioral therapy, are at present the best tinnitus treatment options available. Many patients report some amount of relief and many patients report substantial relief.

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