The CDC indicates that over 50 million Americans experience tinnitus in some form. Moreover, approximately 20 million people experience chronic cases, while two million experience extreme cases.
Indeed, tinnitus can interfere with everyday life if it’s not managed properly. This article seeks to shed more light on how hearing aids can help with tinnitus.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus refers to the perception of sound when no external sound is present. It is described as a ringing in the ears, although it can manifest as buzzing, clicking, hissing, swooshing, clicking, or whistling. Some reported cases reveal that people have heard music. Two main types of tinnitus exist: objective and subjective tinnitus.
Subjective tinnitus describes ear or head noises that only the person can hear and is usually caused by neurological and auditory responses to hearing loss. The American Tinnitus Association revealed that 99% of tinnitus cases are subjective.
On the other hand, objective tinnitus refers to ear or head noises that can be perceived by the patient and others. Muscular-skeletal movements and blood flow often produce these sounds. However, objective tinnitus represents less than 1% of all tinnitus cases. Tinnitus is usually caused by:
- Hearing loss
- Middle ear obstruction
- Neck and head trauma
- Sinus pressure
- Other diseases and medical conditions
How Can Hearing Aids Relieve Tinnitus?
An increase in external noise volume also boosts the auditory stimulation received by the brain. Fortunately, hearing aids perform this function, as they are known to sufficiently alter the acoustic environment to trigger changes in the auditory system. Moreover, the American Tinnitus Association states that it’s beneficial to stimulate the brain’s auditory pathway with soft background noises.
Masking and Additional Effects:
Modern hearing aids have masking properties, making them suitable for people with tinnitus. They can easily be programmed to contrast the tinnitus sounds. They work by augmenting external sound, making it difficult to pay attention to internal sounds. This helps the brain to focus on external noises. The effects of hearing aids’ masking properties are strongly felt by people whose hearing loss is on the same frequency as their tinnitus.
People with loud tinnitus can find it challenging to engage in social and communicative activities like speaking on the phone, listening to the radio, and having conversations with loved ones. This can cause them to isolate themselves, leading to frustration and even depression. Thankfully, hearing aids can improve communication with their sound-masking properties, leading patients to live their regular lives without interference.