If you’re reading this, you may have considered trying hearing aids to help tinnitus. Well, there’s good news. If you suffer from tinnitus and have hearing loss, there’s a 60% chance that hearing aids can provide you with some tinnitus relief.
If you have a hearing loss and bothersome tinnitus, you may want to give hearing aids a try. One survey found that 60% of individuals found relief from their tinnitus by wearing hearing aids. When they wore their hearing aids during the day, the tinnitus was less noticeable and less bothersome.
The benefit from hearing aids comes from audibility. What that means is that when you have a hearing loss, your auditory brain has less access to the sounds in your environment. Usually this is most true with soft, high-pitched sounds. The auditory brain doesn’t have input from these high-pitched sounds, so it creates this phantom high-pitched tinnitus. When you stimulate your auditory brain with sound, that typically takes your perception of tinnitus and lowers it or makes it softer.
How Hearing Aids Help Manage Tinnitus
Hearing aids help tinnitus because they take the sound that your ear is not processing and amplify it, so that you can hear the soft sounds you’ve been missing. This provides constant access to more sound, which typically means that your tinnitus is easier to live with when you’re wearing the hearing aids. Your tinnitus volume may be softer while wearing hearing aids. As explained earlier, most people got tinnitus relief from wearing hearing aids during the day.
When you’re wearing hearing aids, there’s a standard feature called ‘sound therapy’ that plays relaxing sounds to help tinnitus. Now these can be programmed into the device so that when you click a button, you’ll hear some soft white noise, or another setting that can be more like ocean wave noise. There are other kinds of nature sounds that can also be beneficial, and make your tinnitus less bothersome when you’re wearing hearing aids.
You may also benefit from hearing aids that can connect to a Bluetooth phone like a smartphone, because then you can stream any sort of audio input you like straight into your hearing aids. If it was me, I would use an app like Spotify to find the best nature sounds, and that would be streaming through my ears at a soft level during my day, when I’m otherwise bothered by my tinnitus in quiet places. That would be the most customized individual option, to have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids for tinnitus, as that can significantly improve your perception of it during the day.
It’s worth noting that hearing aids are not designed to improve your tinnitus at night. At night you don’t wear the hearing aids; you take them off to go to sleep. Once you take them off, your tinnitus is going to seem pretty loud, because there’s that difference in comparison to when you’re wearing them. Therefore we also emphasize having a good strategy with your tinnitus to help you sleep at night.
Where To Find A Hearing Aid For Tinnitus
So maybe you’re wondering, where do I get hearing aids? Hearing aids often have a trial period, usually 30 or 45 days, where you can try them out and get all your money back if you don’t like them or they don’t meet your needs. If you have bothersome tinnitus, you may want to try hearing aids.
The most qualified professionals to treat hearing loss are doctors of audiology, so I recommend that you first consider seeing an audiologist. The reason I recommend an audiologist first is because they’re most likely to use a system called real ear measures. Using real ear measures involves putting a small microphone tube in your ear canal, putting the hearing aid over the top of it, sending some calibrated speech signals into the hearing aid, and then recording how well the hearing aid is producing the sound into your hearing system. Through that test, the audiologist matches the hearing aid to the prescription which is recommended based on your hearing test.
Audiologists are the most likely to use real ear measures to verify that your hearing aid is working. But you can find hearing instrument specialists who do this procedure as well. Some places like Costco are also known to do real ear measures. Regardless of where you go and which provider you see, you need to make sure they’re using real ear measures.
You can find online hearing aids today for a much cheaper price than in-person hearing aids. This is something to consider. The best site to compare hearing aids is Hearweb.com.
Do Hearing Aids Really Help Tinnitus?
Hearing aids for tinnitus can help with long-term habituation. That means that over many months, your auditory system is getting a lot of access to sound where previously it didn’t have much with the hearing loss. Having that sound coming into your brain can help with habituation. But hearing aids by themselves are not going to habituate your tinnitus. The key to tinnitus habituation may be learning the relationship between your auditory brain, emotional brain, limbic system, and autonomic nervous system. If you’re wondering how exactly you can habituate to tinnitus, and the best way to do that, we have a number of other articles that can help.
So, can a hearing aid help tinnitus? The answer is yes. Our friends over at Hear Soundly created a guide called the ‘Best Tinnitus Masking Hearing Aids,’ check it out for another resource on your hearing journey.
To learn what else may help you manage your tinnitus, please download our free 10-page e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Tinnitus Relief.