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Can Wearing a Hearing Aid Help With Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is often described as ringing in the ear, though people may also use words like hissing, clicking, whistling or whirring. Unfortunately, for many people, tinnitus is a daily and ongoing permanent condition that affects their concentration, ability to sleep and their overall quality of life. Here’s what you should know about tinnitus and how wearing hearing aids can help.
What causes tinnitus?
For most people, tinnitus is the result of damage to the sensory cells of the cochlea. This is part of the inner ear where sounds are converted into electrical signals. Damage to these hair cells is also associated with hearing loss.
Some people who experience tinnitus don’t have hearing loss. This is because there are several other potential causes for tinnitus. For example, tinnitus can also be caused by middle ear infections, earwax build-up, inflamed blood vessels around the ear, medications and other drugs, anxiety and stress.
At Hearing Institute of Ontario our staff are trained and equipped to provide proper diagnosis of your tinnitus. To help identify the cause of your tinnitus, our audiologist will ask you about your medical history and examine your ears, head and neck. We will also perform the following diagnostic tests:
- Hearing Test. During the test, you’ll sit in a soundproof room wearing earphones that transmit specific sounds into one ear at a time. You’ll indicate when you can hear the sound, and your results will be compared with results considered normal for your age.
- Tinnitus Intensity and Frequency Assessment. Also performed in the soundproof room, using specialized testing equipment our audiologist will determine the precise frequency and intensity of your tinnitus. This test will identify likely causes for your tinnitus and best treatment options.
- You will be asked to move your eyes, clench your jaw, or move your neck, arms and legs. If your tinnitus changes or worsens, it may help identify an underlying disorder that needs treatment.
Based upon the results of this evaluation our audiologist will be able to recommend the most effective treatment plan for you.
How can a hearing aid help?
While there is no permanent cure for tinnitus, studies have consistently demonstrated that wearing hearing aids can be an effective way to manage symptoms. This is because tinnitus is normally accompanied by hearing loss. Wearing hearing aids will restore your ability to hear a wider range of sounds, which can allow you to tune out the ringing, whistling and buzzing sounds that are so distracting and annoying.
A hearing aid can also amplify background noises, which can help reduce the sensation of ringing or whistling noises. In addition, modern hearing aid technology with speech focus and directional microphones can allow you to focus on the sounds you want to hear.
Hearing Institute also offers hearing aids with integrated sound therapy programs. Combined with the information obtained from our specific tinnitus tests, these devices can be programmed to introduce sounds designed specifically to drown out the annoying tinnitus sounds or distract your brain from noticing these buzzing or whistling noises.
Finally, some hearing aids are equipped with wireless media streaming and paired with a smartphone app can be used to create a sound-enriched environment designed to minimize tinnitus symptoms.
Before scheduling an appointment with a hearing clinic, you should ask them if they are equipped to perform a tinnitus assessment including pitch matching.
At Hearing Institute of Ontario, we specialize in treating patients who experience both Hearing Loss and Tinnitus. If you believe you fall into this category, we recommend scheduling a no-cost, no-obligation hearing test and consultation with our audiologist. Be sure to tell us about your tinnitus when calling so that we can schedule extra time for your appointment.