18th March 2020

How Hearing Aids Help Tinnitus

Living with the condition tinnitus can be both a physically and mentally draining experience, meaning if you have it, you could benefit from support and in particular, hearing aids as a partial solution to the symptoms.

Hearing aids can help mask the symptoms of tinnitus by reintroducing sounds at the frequencies which have been lost. At South East Hearing Care Centres we use our years of experience to help people suffering from tinnitus through:

Our friendly team are always happy to discuss your best options and have clinics in Horsham (01403 218 863), Chichester (01243 774 536) and Seaford (01323 899 655) where we can see patients. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment or home visit, please call.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a sensation of noise with no external cause. We call it noise because it is unwanted sound and can be very debilitating and impactful.

Tinnitus can be classified as a psychological reaction to a physiological change; the most common of which is hearing loss. This doesn’t just mean hearing loss across the speech spectrum but also hearing in very high frequencies of the dynamic range.

When these frequencies are lost the brain cannot comprehend why it is not receiving these frequencies anymore and in some instances, makes up the sound. This can manifest itself in a:

  • high pitched whistle
  • hissing sounds
  • buzzing sound

The most common at this range can be like a white noise or a fan or air conditioner.

If the tinnitus level is low, it will usually be masked by everyday sounds and only really becomes a nuisance when the environment is very quiet, like at bedtime. This is when it is most impactful and can disturb your ability to fall asleep which can lead to other problems that come from tiredness.

Does tinnitus cause hearing loss, or does hearing loss cause tinnitus?

Whilst tinnitus itself does not cause hearing loss, the symptoms can feel like a hearing loss as it interferes with concentration and therefore comprehension.

Usually it is the other way round and hearing loss confuses the brain into fabricating sounds often in the frequencies of the hearing loss.

How do hearing aids help tinnitus?

There is no magic wand or switch we can flick to eliminate tinnitus but hearing aids can help mask tinnitus. They do this by reintroducing sounds at the frequencies which have been lost. This is thought to satisfy the brain that it is hearing again at these frequencies and no longer needs to replicate them.

However, when hearing aids are removed the tinnitus often returns.

Other more sophisticated hearing aids can have sound generators built in and some can be adapted in both pitch and amplitude to mask tinnitus more accurately. There are also some hearing aids that play fractal tones similar to music so they sound pleasant and can distract from the tinnitus sound.

Again, with daily wear hearing aids the tinnitus often returns when the hearing aids are removed.

What’s the best way to get prescribed a hearing aid for tinnitus?

The first step of the journey begins with a hearing test to determine if this may be the cause of the tinnitus. Depending on the results, this will guide the hearing care professional whether hearing aids, or tinnitus counselling is the way forward.

If you are concerned that you may have tinnitus, it can seem daunting to start the process but finding a solution is the best course of action to take, which can be done by contacting the right specialists.

Specialists are very aware of the issues and concerns that may arise before and after a diagnosis and will be happy to help you through the process,

How long can the process take?

A full diagnostic hearing test and consultation is 90 minutes but may take longer or be split into two sessions if further tests are required to find the pitch and amplitude of the tinnitus.

At our South East Hearing Care Centre branches, results can be given at the time of the appointment or within a few days of the appointment, along with a treatment plan.

What type of hearing aid is best for tinnitus?

By far the best hearing aid for constant masking or distraction from tinnitus is the Lyric. The tiny Lyric device is implanted deep in the ear canal and as it is worn 24 hours a day and never removed, it is always amplifying the lost frequency sounds.

Clinical evidence shows a significant reduction in the level of tinnitus and in a lot of cases, complete abatement. It is thought this works by stimulating the brain with these sounds and therefore no need to make up the sounds.

Many other models of hearing aids are available from open fit mini behind the ear to custom made in the ear, all with tinnitus programmes. These are classed as daily wear hearing aids and are removed at night which can result in a return of the tinnitus.

The best hearing aid models for tinnitus

The hearing aid we consider the best at combating the difficulties experienced with tinnitus is the Lyric as it is constantly in the ear, amplifying the missing sounds which may have led to tinnitus in the first place.

Nearly all the top brand manufacturers have sophisticated hearing aids with tinnitus programmes and in order of efficacy would be:

Of course, the best hearing aid models for tinnitus will also depend on personal preference and you can also look to get custom hearing aids.

Can hearing aids make tinnitus worse?

No, definitely not. Hearing aids collect external sound through tiny microphones before processing it whereas tinnitus, is an internal noise.

What other benefits are there to hearing aids for tinnitus?

The largest benefit from hearing aid use is stimulation. There is a strong correlation between untreated hearing loss and cognitive decline and this alone can lead to tinnitus.

The more connected and engaged an individual is, the more senses are stimulated. Less listening effort and less stress can have amazing health benefits and positive outcomes tend to lessen or eliminate tinnitus.

How South East Hearing Care Centres can help

  • Long term solutions (hearing tests annually or bi-annually)
  • Consider regular annual hearing tests
  • Ask for tinnitus counselling which includes tinnitus retraining therapy
  • Hearing aid solutions that can mask tinnitus
  • Environmental sound speakers to aid in masking and distraction
  • Sound generators when hearing aids are not an option
  • Regular follow up appointments to monitor progress
  • Tinnitus handicap inventory scoring
  • Tinnitus functional index scoring
  • Sympathetic and confidential counselling

Our specialists are here to help and support you and reduce the symptoms of tinnitus through hearing aids. Come and talk to us, we are your listening ear.

What our clients say

Two members of my family have just received excellent advice and treatment at the Chichester Centre.

My husband for ear plugs advice and my 12 year old son, who has been suffering with excessive ear wax building up for the past year or so and being told by GP that can do nothing except keep putting drops in.

Within 15 minutes he had his ears safely unblocked, using micro suction and washing, something the GP said was not available. My son is like a different child and can actually hear again.

Thank You!

Mr J Llewellyn – Chichester patient