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Does Tinnitus Cause Hearing Loss

Elderly Man with Hearing Loss

The U.S Centers for Disease Control believe that over 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus, which equates to around 15 percent of the population to make it one of the most frequent ailments in modern society. But while the direct effects of those symptoms are bad enough, the most common fear shared by sufferers is whether it will lead to hearing loss or deafness.

Given the delicate nature of your hearing health, it’s a very fair concern, particularly if the tinnitus occurs frequently. The information below should provide some clarity.

What is tinnitus

Tinnitus is characterized by hearing sounds even when there is no external sound source. The types of sounds include, but are not limited to;

  • Buzzes
  • Whistles
  • Whirling
  • Hissing
  • Roaring
  • Whooshing
  • Pulsing

The sounds may be heard continuously or intermittently, in one ear or simultaneously in both. Either way, the internal noises are likely to disrupt you from hearing external sounds for as long as the tinnitus lasts. However, the problems might not end there.

Tinnitus and hearing loss

Despite having a clear definition, tinnitus isn’t a health condition in itself but rather an indication of underlying issues. The list of potential causes is extensive and varied. Hearing loss is one of the most common, even if people with perfect hearing can experience tinnitus too.

People often assume that tinnitus is the reason for hearing difficulties. In reality, the tinnitus merely exacerbates an existing level of hearing loss. Hearing loss affects up to two in three tinnitus sufferers.

The most common reason for this is that the sound-sensing hair cells from within the cochlea have been damaged. This is where sound waves are turned into electrical signals before sending them to the brain. As the number of messages being sent to the brain decreases, it naturally tries to compensate for this loss. The internal sounds and tinnitus signs surface because the brain tries to fill in the gaps.

Tinnitus can often be linked to other medical conditions. Even then, though, hearing loss is usually connected to the issue too. Given that hearing loss is often a gradual process that you won’t notice until it reaches a severe level, signs of tinnitus indicate that it’s time to get your hearing tested.

Treating tinnitus (and the associated hearing loss)

Because tinnitus and hearing loss are so heavily linked, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that treating both issues at once is the best solution. Once the audiologist has confirmed the presence of both problems, a number of possible treatments can be advised. Hearing aids are the most common by far.

Wearing hearing aids to treat your hearing loss will naturally see the signs of tinnitus disappear. Essentially, the increased volume and detection of external sounds will drown out the tinnitus. Likewise, the brain won’t need to fill in the gaps, meaning the whistles and buzzes won’t be heard. When added to the benefits for your hearing too, the results can be life-changing.

Aside from helping to relieve tinnitus through those indirect benefits, hearing aids can block out tinnitus too. Having hearing aids planted in your ear canal can prevent noises that are worsened by the wind and changes in air pressure. This is especially true when opting for advanced models that boast the tech to reduce the impact of those sounds.

Alternative treatments can include sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and mental exercises. In some cases, medications or surgery may even be available. Either way, the audiologist will find the perfect option.

The best hearing aids for tinnitus sufferers

While there are many different options on the market, tinnitus sufferers often find that in-the-ear and receiver-in-canal hearing aids work exceptionally well. This is especially true when the background noise control features are of a high standard.

Bluetooth connectivity is another commonly enjoyed feature. Having the sounds of the TV or telephone transmitted to the ear via the hearing aids can aid the situation, both in terms of tinnitus and hearing loss.

The most critical element, though, is to find a hearing aid that fits and performs the level of corrective restoration that you need. After all, a hearing aid built for mild hearing loss is futile if you suffer from profound hearing loss.

Take the first step to restoration today

Whether your tinnitus is linked to hearing loss or not, it needs to be treated ASAP. Advantage Hearing & Audiology provides world-class support from the first appointment to the hearing aids fitting and beyond. Give one of our offices a call today: