One of the most common tinnitus treatment recommendations is using to use hearing aids. But with the frequent recommendation also comes the question; can hearing aids really help with your tinnitus?
Well, to provide you with some answers and insights to how hearing aids can help alleviate your tinnitus symptoms, our hearing specialists at Hearing Associates of Las Vegas are here for you.
Connection Between Hearing Loss And Tinnitus
Using hearing aids to help manage tinnitus makes sense in a number of ways. One of the most important ways is how hearing aids can assist with the hearing loss that is commonly found along with tinnitus.
Now, not everyone who has tinnitus has hearing loss present. Some researchers have speculated that this phenomenon is due to how the sound-sensing hair cells in the cochlea—the area of the inner ear—have become damaged. When it comes to sensorineural hearing loss, both the inner and outer hair cells in the cochlea become damaged. But, if there is tinnitus without hearing loss, only the inner hairs in the cochlea have taken damage.
This localized damage allows those without hearing loss to still experience tinnitus. However, in many cases, hearing loss and tinnitus are connected, making hearing aids an effective tool to assist with both hearing loss as well as tinnitus.
Mask Tinnitus With Hearing Aids
One of the direct ways that hearing aids can assist with tinnitus management is by acting as a sound masker. The masking effect is a two-part process.
First, hearing aids can assist with amplifying the sounds around you, from the sounds of the wind blowing to the hum of your electronics. With the ability to hear these external sounds, your tinnitus will become less noticeable and overpowering. Since one of our hearing specialists main recommendations is to avoid being in total silence, it makes sense why hearing background noises again can help you manage your tinnitus.
Along with the amplification ability of hearing aids, many modern digital hearing aids have tinnitus management tools built into them. These tools allow you to play a background noise through your hearing aids, such as rain sounds or ocean noises.
These background sounds can help keep tinnitus in check because your tinnitus won’t be the only thing you are hearing.
Correct Tinnitus-Induced Communication Issues
Tinnitus at any level can be incredibly distracting, though it usually impacts communication abilities more around moderate-to-severe levels. As tinnitus makes communication more difficult, social isolation and the accompanying depression can make matters far worse. However, hearing aids can help correct tinnitus-induced communication issues.
For one thing, if you have been having difficulty talking on the phone or hearing your favorite show due to tinnitus, hearing aids are an excellent solution. By using a telecoil or Bluetooth technology to connect with your phone or TV, you can stream the sounds directly into your hearing aids, which can send the amplified signal to your ears with less interference from your tinnitus.
As for person-to-person communication, hearing aids can also assist with overcoming tinnitus’ ability to drown people out. While you can’t stream your friend’s conversation directly into your ears, hearing aids programmed by our hearing specialists will prioritize human speech over other sounds, delivering the speech of others clearly to your ears. Thanks to the hearing aids’ greater clarity, you will have an easier time communicating with others.
Receive More Auditory Stimulation With Hearing Aids
All this increasing of audible sounds with hearing aids is essential to help treat your tinnitus. Tinnitus causes changes in the brain, from decreasing grey matter to stimulating neural activity in the amygdala. The stimulation of the amygdala is particularly what causes many of the negative emotions connected to tinnitus, as that area of the brain is particularly important for emotional regulation.
As for the decrease in grey matter in the brain, this process is usually due to the brain receiving less input from your auditory system—your brain takes a hit when you experience hearing loss. With hearing aids, you can protect your brain from these negative restructuring effects by allowing it more auditory stimulation and help your brain keep your tinnitus quietly filed away.
What Hearing Aids Can Assist The Most With Tinnitus
So, if you are convinced that hearing aids really can help you with your tinnitus, the next question is—what are the best hearing aids for tinnitus?
Depending on your hearing loss, lifestyle needs, and other factors, different hearing aids will work best for your needs. Our hearing specialists work with most major brands of hearing aids, and they can help you find the right ones. Some of the hearing aid brands with excellent tinnitus support that our patients have found helped them are:
- Widex Zen Therapy hearing aids
- Oticon hearing aids with Tinnitus SoundSupport
- Starkey hearing aids with Multiflex Tinnitus Technology
If you would like assistance finding hearing aids that will help with your tinnitus, contact us. Our hearing specialists can also help program your hearing aids to ensure that your tinnitus is properly managed, so you can live a happier, tinnitus-free life.