Do you ever experience a ringing, roaring, whistling, hissing, humming or buzzing sound that has no external source, especially in quiet environments like Athens-Clarke County Public Library? If so, you’re not alone – an estimated 50 million Americans experience this condition known as tinnitus.
Tinnitus is a symptom rather than a disease in and of itself. As such, there is no cure; however, there are many ways to make it more manageable. One way is the use of hearing aids.
It’s important to understand the common cause of tinnitus and hearing loss in order to understand how hearing aids provide relief.
Inside the inner ear are tiny hair cells called stereocilia. These cells are responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain can interpret as sound. As dangerously loud sounds pass through the ears, these cells can be damaged or destroyed.
When the stereocilia are damaged, it can cause them to misfire, resulting in tinnitus. When the damage is extensive, the result is permanent sensorineural hearing loss. Since tinnitus and hearing loss are caused by damage to the nerves, they both often benefit from the same treatment.
How Hearing Aids Help
Hearing aids help you hear by amplifying sounds in your environment to a volume that the ears can detect and the brain can understand. When you first put on hearing aids, you begin to hear sounds you likely haven’t heard in years, like the hum of the refrigerator and chirping birds. In essence, the world around you is turned up.
When you’re able to hear all the sounds in your environment, it can mask the sounds of your tinnitus, or at the very least distract you from it. Some hearing aids even have the benefit of built-in tinnitus maskers.
Efficacy of Hearing Aids for Tinnitus
A small study published in 2015 set out to determine how effective tinnitus-masking hearing aids really are.
For the study, researchers worked with 30 individuals with bothersome tinnitus who were hearing aid candidates but had not worn devices for at least 12 months. Half the participants wore regular hearing aids while the other half wore tinnitus masking hearing aids.
After three months, both groups showed significant improvement in their tinnitus, with slightly better outcomes for the group wearing masking devices. To find relief from your tinnitus, call the experts at the Georgia Hearing Center at ENT of Athens today.