Can a Hearing Aid Stop Tinnitus?
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Tinnitus is a common condition characterized by ringing, buzzing or hissing sounds occurring in one or both ears. While most people experience only brief periods of mild tinnitus at some point in their lives, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association estimates that 10-15% of adults have prolonged periods of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is caused by one or more issues, such as a head injury, stress, excess ear wax, hypertension, migraine headaches and chronic or acute exposure to loud noises. Another common cause of tinnitus is hearing loss, which is why many people living with this debilitating condition ask, “Can a hearing aid stop tinnitus?”
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Hearing loss impacts approximately 15% of American adults aged 18 and older, and men experience hearing loss nearly twice as frequently as women. While hearing loss isn’t an inevitable part of aging as some people believe, it is exceptionally common among seniors. About one-third of elders aged 65 to 74 have difficulty hearing, and half of those aged 75 and older experience some degree of deafness.
How Do Hearing Aids Help With Tinnitus?
According to the American Tinnitus Association, “tinnitus is overwhelmingly connected to some level of hearing loss,” which is why hearing aids may be useful as a treatment for tinnitus.
The ATA explains that hearing loss triggers neuroplastic changes in the way the brain processes various sound frequencies, and that, “tinnitus is the product of these maladaptive neuroplastic changes.” Put another way, the humming, ringing, buzzing and hissing that’s associated with tinnitus is triggered by the brain trying to overcome the hearing loss.
Patients with tinnitus caused by mild-to-moderate hearing loss may find that wearing hearing aids provides some measure of relief from their tinnitus while also improving their ability to hear.
Hearing aids may help some tinnitus suffers by:
- Masking specific external noises, which minimizes the neuroactivity that causes tinnitus
- Increasing the clarity of certain sounds associated with speech, which can help reduce the prevalence of ringing, humming and other unwanted noises associated with tinnitus
Can Hearing Aids Cure Tinnitus?
Although hearing aids can help counteract hearing loss and the troublesome symptoms of tinnitus, these devices are not considered to be a cure for either deafness or tinnitus.