Tinnitus is a condition in which a person perceives sound that is not actually present in the environment. It is often described as “ringing in the ears” but can include virtually any type of sound including whooshing, hissing, or whistling. Tinnitus is a common health issue that impacts between 10 – 30% of people. According to the American Tinnitus Association, about 80% of tinnitus patients report relief by utilizing hearing aids. Sound therapy also helps, which is sometimes built into devices or via an app, and adjust sounds corresponding to personal preference. As a result, people experience a reduction in the harshness of tinnitus.
Hearing aids can help reduce the experience of tinnitus by subtly magnifying background sound to help reduce the perception of tinnitus. This means the brain can concentrate on the preferred sounds to hear instead of the sound of tinnitus.
Hearing aids can additionally help keep tinnitus from obstructing with the ability to partake in conversations and other social situations by gently amplifying sounds that are aimed right at the ear. This will help focus on the clarity of speech, the television, or anything else there is a struggle to hear, instead of tinnitus. If these desired sounds are rendered to be slightly louder than tinnitus symptoms, then it will no longer disrupt the capability to enjoy desired sounds.
In an article by scientists Heller and Bergman, they revealed that 94% of people with regular hearing experienced tinnitus when in a quiet atmosphere. With these quiet conditions, the brain can pick up on active soft-level sounds that we do not register in a loud world. Therefore, if hearing loss is not being appropriately amplified, the experience we have in more quiet environments can make tinnitus more noticeable.
Many of today’s hearing aids contain a technical element intended to precisely work with a person’s tinnitus. They emit white noise or synthetic sounds directly into the ear to deliver a sound designed to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio of the vexing tinnitus sound. This form of tinnitus treatment helps reorient the brain to “turn down” the volume of tinnitus symptoms throughout daily living. Hearing aids that link to cellphones can also play sounds to promote a sound-enhanced environment through specialized smartphone apps. Make an appointment with Southern Nevada Audiology to discuss options for further assistance and help with treating tinnitus.