Tinnitus and Hearing Aids
– Tinnitus can be extremely annoying, but did you know that for some people, hearing aids can actually completely get rid of their tinnitus? That’s why in this video I’m talking about tinnitus and how hearing aids might be your best treatment option to get rid of it, coming up.
Hi Guys, Cliff Olson, Doctor of Audiology and Founder of Applied Hearing Solutions in Anthem, Arizona, and on this channel I cover a bunch of hearing related information to help make you a better informed consumer. So if you’re into that, make sure you hit that Subscribe button. And don’t forget to hit the bell to receive a notification every time I release a new video.
Tinnitus, otherwise known as ringing of the ears, is an extremely common condition that effects over 50 million Americans, according to the American Tinnitus Association, which is about 15% of the total U.S. Population. Since the majority of individuals with tinnitus also have a hearing loss, one of the more common theories is that when an individual has hearing loss, sound can’t make it from the ear to the brain.
When the brain realizes that it isn’t receiving information from the ears, it can create its own phantom sound to replace it. This phantom sound is often perceived as a ringing or a buzzing and can fluctuate in volume and level of annoyance. Let me give you an example, this is an audiogram of my hearing loss. The circles represent my hearing ability and the farther down you see these circles on the graph, the worse my hearing is at that particular range.
As you can see, I have a unique Moderate-Severe Sensorineural cookie bite hearing loss, and had thresholds of 65 dB HL at 1.5 kilohertz, 60 dB HL at two kilohertz, and 40 dB HL at three kilohertz. When performing a tinnitus Pitch and Intensity match by presenting a pure tone from the testing equipment, I just happen to experience my tinnitus at two kilohertz at 65 dB HL.
This is very common for tinnitus sufferers to experience the ringing sound in a range that they have hearing loss, and just slightly louder than their audible threshold. Now if tinnitus is in fact caused by this absence of sound making it to the brain and your brain responding accordingly, then by replacing that sound, you could potentially get rid of that ringing sound, there’d be no reason for your brain to produce that sound on its own.
And this is actually what we see in about 60% of individuals who use hearing aids. When they put these devices on and we program them correctly to their hearing loss prescription, we feed the brain back the sound that it was missing and they have no perception of their tinnitus, or at least some dramatic reduction of their tinnitus.
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In these cases not only does the tinnitus stop while you’re wearing the hearing aids, but some individuals actually get what we call Residual Inhibition which is the prevention of this tinnitus perception, even when you take the hearing aids off. Some of my patients get anything from 15 minutes of Residual Inhibition, all the way up to about four hours of it.
So, by taking these devices out, if you get some amount of time of Residual Inhibition, you may not even hear that ringing sound when you’re trying to get to sleep. Personally I am not in that 60% group, I fall into the 40% of individuals who does not experience any particular change with a hearing aid in my ear, or with a hearing aid out of my ear. It sounds the same to me either way.
However, if you’re in the 40% group of people who does not experience relief of your tinnitus just by wearing a hearing aid that has been programmed correctly to you, then you might be able to get a little bit of benefit with the tinnitus Maskers that they have inside of hearing aids. Almost every brand of hearing aids has some form of masking sound that they will play.
Some of these companies will play just a static white noise in order to drown out the perception of your tinnitus, other companies do what we call Notched Noise Filtering which is they stimulate the areas around that center frequency that you’re perceiving the tinnitus in order to drowned it out. In the case of my tinnitus, they would play masking noise at the frequencies next to where I perceive the tinnitus, but not in the exact range of where I perceive it.
And another company will actually use kind of musical tones to make sure that you get a more pleasant perception of the sound that you have to hear, rather than just listening to the ringing. It is important to note that hearing aids do not cure tinnitus, they merely suppress the perception of that tinnitus, or they mask over the tinnitus. Despite what anyone would lead you to believe, there is no cure that exists yet.
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There’s no over-the-counter remedy, or herbal supplement that you can take to reduce your tinnitus perception. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t experience a significant reduction in your tinnitus perception by using hearing aids.
In fact, I’ve had a number of patients tell me that if they would’ve known how much of a reduction they would have got in their tinnitus perception by using hearing aids, they would’ve pursued hearing treatment a long time ago.
And who knows, you might be in the 60% of individuals that gets a complete reduction in your tinnitus perception, you just have to give hearing aids a try. That’s it for this video, if you have any questions, leave them in the comment section below. If you like the video, please share it. And if you wanna see other videos just like this one, make sure you hit that Subscribe button. I’ll see ya next time.
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