How do Hearing Aids help with Tinnitus?

A Proven Treatment for Tinnitus

Tinnitus is usually connected to some level of hearing loss. However, some people with tinnitus have normal hearing.

When there is associated hearing loss we can fit hearing aids that provide amplification in the frequency ranges with diminished hearing. This usually has an inhibiting effect on the tinnitus. This is partially because the ambient sounds around you are naturally heard again. So the contrast between the tinnitus you hear and the ambient sounds are reduced.

Neural Stimulation

When there is a decline in peripheral hearing, the neural firing patterns of the nerves and brain are affected. The code of neural information or stimulation they receive from the peripheral auditory system has changed. If enough auditory deprivation occurs they can lose coordination and fire erratically. This can result in the phantom perception of sounds or tinnitus.

We can put back the acoustic stimulation around any frequency ranges that have declined through hearing aid amplification. As a result the stream of acoustic stimulation is returned which helps realign neural firing patterns and has an inhibiting effect on tinnitus.

The dual benefit of hearing aids

If tinnitus is caused by an underlying hearing loss then hearing aids can give the dual benefit of improving clarity as well as giving relief from tinnitus. What’s more there is usually a period of residual inhibition even after the hearing aids are taken off. Over time with repeated inhibitions we can get to a state of habituation where we just don’t notice the tinnitus sounds anymore.

Hearing aids with Sound Therapy

Most leading hearing aid brands latest models embed a form of sound therapy option. Sound therapy can be used in tandem with amplification as part of a treatment plan. If amplification alone is not enough we can customise additional sound generating programs. You can use either the hearing aid buttons or an App to access these programs. The sound should be pleasant and comfortable. i.e. not so loud that it completely masks over the tinnitus, but just at a level that it blends with it. We usually find that nature sounds such as “ocean sounds” are most comfortable to have going in the background. Such sounds are known as modulated sound that surges up and down in intensity. Like waves lapping up and down on a beach.

Is there proof of a positive effect on tinnitus by using hearing aids?

Yes there has been several studies undertaken into the effects that wearing hearing aids has on the perception of tinnitus. Some of the studies really focused on the effect of hearing aids on every-day life for the tinnitus patient. They were focused mainly on how a hearing aid may help reduce tinnitus and improve the quality of life of the user. Other studies really focused on the impact of hearing aids on the perception of tinnitus.

They strongly suggested that for a large number of people, hearing aids do reduce the effect of tinnitus. It is observed that wearing hearing aids binaurally (one on each ear) was more beneficial than using only one aid.

What hearing aid brands offer tinnitus therapy?

The major hearing aid brands offer sound therapy as a feature. The following is a list of brands who offer sound therapy:

If you would like to find out more about hearing aids and tinnitus call us on 08 9386 7816 to book an appointment now.

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