Tinnitus is the perception of sound where none is actually present. Often described as a ringing in the ear, tinnitus often manifests as a ringing, buzzing or humming in the ears. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly 15% of the general public — over 50 million Americans — experience some form of tinnitus. Of these, 20 million struggle with burdensome chronic tinnitus, while 2 million experience extreme or debilitating symptoms of tinnitus.
If you are a sufferer of tinnitus, you may be asking what treatment options are available to you. Although there is no known cure for tinnitus, there are means to relieve the symptoms. Today, we’re looking at whether hearing aids can help with tinnitus.
What is Tinnitus?
First, let’s explore what tinnitus actually is. It is the term for hearing a sound in your ears when there is not actually any external sound present. Most cases of tinnitus are ‘subjective’, meaning that only the person suffering from tinnitus can hear the sound. Commonly described as a ringing in the ears, sufferers may also experience hissing, whistling, buzzing, chirping or even roaring in their ears.
Most sufferers of tinnitus will experience mild, intermittent symptoms. Others will experience more prolonged and severe symptoms. However, one thing connects all sufferers – the desire to minimize the symptoms of the tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Although there is no definitive cause of tinnitus, there are a variety of factors known to trigger or worsen the symptoms. These include:
- Hearing Loss: According to the Hearing Health Foundation, about 90% of individuals who experience tinnitus also have hearing loss. For some, the brain compensates for hearing loss by turning up an “inner volume control” to amplify otherwise unnoticeable sounds. So, symptoms begin, often with a cycle of emotional distress.
- Loud Noise: If you’ve ever been to a loud rock concert, you’re likely aware of the muffled feeling in your ears when you walk away. In some cases, you may experience symptoms of tinnitus after exposure to loud noise (such as those in a rock concert). Loud noise can damage the tiny hairs in your inner ear, known as the cilia. Damage to the cilia can result in noise-induced hearing loss. If you’d like to learn more about how noise can impact your hearing health, check our out blog on Understanding & Preventing Noise Induced Hearing Loss.
- Ototoxic Medications: Some medications, such as anti-inflammatories, antidepressants and antibiotics can be harmful to your inner ear. Known as ototoxic medication, if you suspect that your medication is impacting your hearing health, we recommend booking in an appointment with your general medical practitioner to discuss further.
- Health Conditions: Tinnitus has been linked with a variety of health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, thyroid problems, high blood pressure (hypertension), and more. To rule out an underlying health condition for your tinnitus, we recommend booking in an appointment with your general medical practitioner.
Can Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?
Although there is no ‘cure’ for tinnitus, there are ways to minimize the symptoms. As many cases of tinnitus are associated with a hearing loss, using hearing aids can help treat the hearing loss and subsequently reduce the symptoms of tinnitus.
Oftentimes, the similarities between the type of hearing loss and the tinnitus symptoms that you experience can be remarkable. For example, if you have a high-frequency hearing loss, you may experience high-pitched ringing from tinnitus.
If you are suffering from tinnitus and would like to explore how we can help relieve your symptoms, get in touch with us today. The hearing care professionals at Sutton Hearing & Balance would be happy to go through any questions you may have, and determine if hearing aids can help to reduce the symptoms of tinnitus that you are experiencing. Give our team a call on (212) 786-5741 or click here to request an appointment online.