For people with hearing loss, assistive devices in the form of hearing aids continually evolve and refine, restoring your capability to hear and communicate effectively. Rather than simply a volume boost, contemporary hearing aids are high-fidelity and easily programmed to meet your needs. Integration with Bluetooth and other technologies adds features that not only extend hearing but also improve your quality of life.
However, hearing loss is often accompanied by another condition. Tinnitus, commonly called ringing in the ears, is the perception of a phantom sound or noise. These sounds may also stem from circulatory system disorders or ear injuries and can prove distracting. Advances in hearing aid technology can reduce the frustration of tinnitus while improving your ability to hear.
How tinnitus develops
Tinnitus isn’t a condition, but rather a symptom of another disorder. Many health conditions may contribute to tinnitus, but the precise cause isn’t always known. Inner ear damage is frequently related to these phantom sounds.
Tiny cilia, the hairs within your inner ear, move with changes in sound pressure. This movement normally stimulates a nerve signal which your brain interprets as sound. Damage to the cilia affect the way nerve signals get generated. Flawed cilia can then create sounds without any pressure changes from acoustic sounds.
The reason why tinnitus begins varies among individuals. Exposure to prolonged loud noise and age-related hearing loss are perhaps the most common reasons, but conditions such as Meniere’s disease, temporomandibular joint disorder, or earwax blockages may also be responsible. High blood pressure and atherosclerosis are two blood vessel-related disorders that may cause tinnitus, and certain medications, such as antibiotics and cancer medications, can cause temporary spells.
Treating tinnitus with hearing aids
When tinnitus is bothersome, it dominates the sound that your brain perceives. When you have hearing loss, you don’t hear sounds from the natural world as well, so the proportion of tinnitus is higher when compared with natural sounds. When you’re fitted with hearing aids, however, your brain hears the amplified sounds of the world around you. The phantom sounds of tinnitus continueƒ but at a comparatively lower level.
This proportional shift makes it more difficult to focus on the tinnitus sounds. You grow more attuned to external sounds, with phantom sounds masked. Louder sounds create more auditory stimulation in the brain, which may also make it harder to recognize low-level tinnitus.
Part of the frustration of tinnitus occurs when normal communication is interrupted. Following conversation or talking on the phone may aggravate you and accentuate the impact of tinnitus. When the level of important communication rises to the point where these conversations are no longer affected, the frustration created by phantom sounds disperses and tinnitus because less of an issue.
Each person’s hearing loss is unique, and similarly, tinnitus is not one phantom sound common to all sufferers. It’s possible to have several tinnitus sounds. Proper assessment and fitting of hearing aids to counter your hearing loss is the first step in successful treatment. Contact the Lakeshore Ear Nose & Throat Center location nearest to you for an appointment today.