Will Hearing Aids Help with Ringing in the Ears?
Hearing ringing in the ears is one of the main symptoms of tinnitus. Tinnitus is defined by the hearing of noises that are not of an outside source, most typically a ringing or a buzzing. The cause of tinnitus is unknown, but it is often linked to hearing loss. It’s a myth that there aren’t any treatments for tinnitus, and hearing aids can be very effective. Hearing aids are prescribed by an audiologist to those who have hearing loss associated with tinnitus, either on their own or as part of a package of care.
Hearing loss and tinnitus
Hearing loss is a common factor underlying a ringing in the ears. It’s also associated with other problems related to the inner ears such as dizziness and loss of balance, as well as digging in your ears. Tinnitus occurs in a lot of people with and without hearing loss. It’s not unheard of for people with normal hearing to have tinnitus. The problem is that hearing loss can go undiagnosed if it’s gradual and can sometimes go unnoticed. Many people assume the problem is just the tinnitus causing any hearing difficulties.
Will hearing aids help with tinnitus?
For many people, hearing loss and tinnitus are connected and can be treated with hearing aids. While tinnitus doesn’t cause hearing loss, the perceived sound can be distracting and make it hard to focus on other sounds. Fitted hearing aids are prescribed by an audiologist to correct sound deprivation. Tinnitus related to hearing loss can, therefore, be reduced by hearing aids. To get the best results from hearing aids it’s advisable to wear them throughout the day and only take them out to go to bed.
There are varying types of hearing aids and studies have shown that in the majority of cases they all may have a positive effect on tinnitus and help to reduce any ringing in the ears. Bilateral hearing aids, on both ears, are reported to work better at reducing tinnitus. With advances in technology, digital hearing aids can be tailored more to an individual, so if they have tinnitus this can be taken into account. Different types of hearing aids target specific needs.
Open-fit hearing aids
Open-fit hearing aids are similar to behind-the-ear (BTE) devices but work by fitting a very small tube into the ear canal. This enables amplification without blocking any other external sounds. These are effective for tinnitus patients. In the past older models of hearing aids caused more occlusion which meant you could hear internal sounds, such as speaking or chewing. This caused interference for those with ringing in their ears. Nowadays the sound is filtered cleanly and open fit technology allows external sounds to be amplified instead and minimizes occlusion.
An audiologist can prescribe combination devices which are hearing aids combined with a sound generator. The aim of this is the adjustment to tinnitus by producing extra-low sounds, while simultaneously amplifying external sounds. For most people with both hearing loss and tinnitus however, an amplification device can provide a sufficient reduction in tinnitus disturbance. Simple hearing aids are therefore still considered an effective treatment for ringing in the ears and is generally what an audiologist will prescribe.
Problems with hearing aids and tinnitus
Certain types of hearing aids, particularly internal ones in the ear and in the canal can be susceptible to a build-up of earwax causing a blockage. The solution for this is regular maintenance. Speak to an audiologist for advice about this. If a hearing aid has been fitted incorrectly it could end up over-amplifying or under-amplifying, which is a problem for those with tinnitus. It’s a good idea to have a check-up with an audiologist if you think the hearing aid isn’t functioning properly, or your tinnitus is still causing a significant annoyance. Any change in sound quality could be due to a build-up of wax or malfunction. If there is a wax build-up, it should be removed by a qualified nurse or audiologist. Do not in any case attempt to remove wax with cotton buds, tweezers or by inserting anything directly into the ear canal.
Overall, it takes most people only a few weeks to get used to their hearing aids. Many people have reported becoming much less aware of ringing in the ears after the treatment of hearing loss with a hearing aid. It can take a short time to get re-accustomed to normal levels of sound.
For any more information about your hearing aid or ringing in your ear, or to learn more about the Hearing Wellness Centre, call today at 519-735-4327.