Ring, ring, ring… in your ears

Experiencing tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, can be concerning and confusing. At one moment, you’re hearing as clear as day, and the next, you can’t get the constant ringing out of your head – or your ears. 

And for some folks, tinnitus is just a regular – albeit, annoying – part of their everyday life. They’ve become accustomed to hearing a constant ringing. Yikes! 

Tinnitus is a much more common affliction than you might think. In fact, according to the CDC, about 10% of adults in the US have experienced tinnitus for at least 5 minutes in the last year, and many adults suffer from ongoing tinnitus. 

But what exactly is tinnitus, and how do you treat it? Hearing aids are a wonderful option for those suffering from chronic tinnitus! 

What is tinnitus and what causes it?

Tinnitus is a condition where you experience a ringing in your ears that isn’t caused by an external sound and often can’t be heard by others. While it’s generally defined as a “ringing” sensation, tinnitus can also exhibit as a buzzing, roaring, or hissing sound, and can be experienced in either one or both ears at once. 

There are two different types of tinnitus, subjective tinnitus, which is when the noise can only be heard by the person experiencing tinnitus, and objective tinnitus, which is where a doctor can hear the noise through a specialized device.

While some of the population experiences tinnitus constantly, tinnitus can also be temporary, lasting anywhere from a couple of minutes to several hours. 

There are a few different reasons you may experience tinnitus, and tinnitus is usually one of the first indications that there may be a deeper issue within the ear that requires a doctor to diagnose. As a symptom, tinnitus may indicate the beginning stages of hearing loss, injury, or an infection, but it can also be caused by:

  • Sudden or prolonged exposure to loud noise
  • Certain medication
  • Allergies, colds, or flu
  • Earwax or a foreign object

How do hearing aids help with tinnitus?

The majority of people who experience ongoing or chronic tinnitus also have some level of hearing loss, so it only makes sense that a hearing aid can treat not only the tinnitus you’re experiencing but also the underlying hearing loss.

Hearing aids are an effective way to treat tinnitus for a few different reasons:

Restore auditory stimulation: When you experience hearing loss, your brain is not receiving or processing as many auditory signals, which can make the brain hyperactive. This hyperactivity within your nerve cells can be mistaken for sound by your brain, which is experienced as tinnitus. Hearing aids can stimulate your brain by assisting with processing sound, which can manage tinnitus. 

Amplify background noise: In the early stages of hearing loss, subtle background noise is the first thing to go, which can leave open space for tinnitus to start. Hearing aids can help restore the ability to hear background noise, which can drown out any tinnitus you may be experiencing. 

Reduce stress: Tinnitus is often worsened by stress, so avoiding or managing stress is an obvious way to reduce tinnitus. Hearing aids can remove some of the anxiety and stress that comes with everyday activities that involve your hearing, like attending meetings or talking with family and friends.

Tinnitus-specific features: Hearing aid technology has come a long way in recent years, and one of the coolest advancements in that technology is the development of features specifically designed for tinnitus sufferers. Some hearing aids have masking features, which can drown out tinnitus with white noise or another calming sound.

If you’re suffering from tinnitus or hearing loss in general, getting in touch with a hearing care provider is the best step you can take to get started on the journey to better hearing. Schedule a free hearing test with the team at Beltone Tristate today!