Can Hearing Aids Help Patient with Tinnitus?


Tinnitus is a symptom where the patient hears a noise in one or both ears. The noise heard can be loud, shrill, a hissing sound, or anything else. This persistent noise can add to stress levels and make it difficult for patients to hear and communicate with others. Tinnitus is a symptom caused by various underlying conditions. However, the cause is often not identifiable and, therefore, tinnitus cannot be cured. However, tinnitus can be managed and treated so that patients are better able to cope with the noise they are hearing.

One way of helping patients suffering from tinnitus is by fitting them with an open-fit hearing aid. Patients suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus can benefit from the fitting of a hearing aid as it works in multiple ways to alleviate their condition.

Hearing Aids

Hearing aids are electronic signal processers that alter the sound signal, making it louder and ensuring better speech comprehension and communication. The microphone in the hearing aid receives the sound signal, converts it into electrical impulses using an amplifier, and transmits this to the hair in the ear, that transmit it to as neural signals to the inner ear and from there via the auditory nerve to the brain.

Advantages of Hearing Aids for Treating Tinnitus

A hearing aid helps in treating tinnitus in multiple ways. First, it amplifies the background noise by activating the auditory system. This masks the loudness of the tinnitus. Second, when the tinnitus is reduced, this helps reduce stress levels that typically exacerbate tinnitus.

Open Fit vs tight Fitting Ear Mould Hearing Aids

Earlier hearing aids were tight fitting ear mould designs that occluded the ear channel. This meant that tinnitus sounds as well as chewing sounds were magnified and a hollow reverberation was produced.

Open fit hearing aids have a slim tube connected to the hearing aid. This helps in noise control and eliminated the hollow reverberation and sounds of tinnitus. This also eliminated external sounds and transmits sounds from the external to internal ear, producing greater quality of sounds.

Studies have shown that patients suffering from both hearing loss and tinnitus can benefit from open fit hearing aids that also help control tinnitus. When the patients underwent tinnitus retraining therapy as well as habituating therapy along with the use of the hearing aid to mask the tinnitus, they were able to experience greater relief.

Sound Therapy

A person with hearing loss and tinnitus can benefit from a hearing aid as it will amplify background sounds and increase auditory information to the brain, effectively masking tinnitus. In addition, the hearing aid will make communication with others easier, reducing stress levels. This will, in turn, help reduce tinnitus, which is aggravated by stress. The hearing aid will also help to compensate hearing loss for patients with mild to moderate levels of hearing loss. The hearing aid will also help patients with tinnitus get habituated to the condition.

While tinnitus is not curable, mainly because it is not a disease but a condition, it can be treated to make patients more comfortable. If the underlying cause is identified, this can be fixed. If not a patient can be fitted with a hearing aid that will amplify external sounds and indirectly mask the tinnitus.
Other options for patients suffering from tinnitus is using a white noise generator, obtaining treatment to get habituated to the sound, and dealing with stress. All of these steps can be combined to reduce the effect of tinnitus, ensuring better physical and psychological health of the patient. A hearing aid is one of the treatment approaches that can help such patients.

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