If you are enduring an incessant ringing, buzzing, clicking, or humming sound, typically associated with tinnitus, you’re already aware of how it disrupts your lifestyle and quality of life.
It might be some consolation to know that you’re not alone. Chronic tinnitus affects between 15 and 20 percent of American adults. Because tinnitus often goes hand in hand with hearing loss, you might be considering hearing aids as a solution to your condition.
With this article, I want to answer some of your questions about tinnitus, such as:
- What causes tinnitus?
- Do hearing aids cure tinnitus?
- Are there other treatments or strategies used to address tinnitus?
At Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates, we understand the aggravation caused by your tinnitus as well as how its a disruptive influence on your daily life. We are ready to provide tinnitus management solutions with proven results that meet your unique needs.
A Quick Summary of Tinnitus and Its Cause
I want to be candid with you from the beginning. No one has been able to identify the exact cause of tinnitus. Lacking a specific cause, no cure has been developed.
By definition, tinnitus is a symptom of a neurological disorder that causes you to perceive sounds that have no external source.
Most cases of tinnitus are temporary, being experienced for a few hours after a major sporting event, concert, a night at the club, or an explosion of some sort. Consequently, damaging noise, which can lead to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), is a common factor.
The prevailing theory is that it is similar to the phantom limb phenomenon experienced by amputees, whereby your auditory system is producing sounds it no longer hears.
This explains why it is often associated with hearing loss, but there are a significant number of tinnitus cases in which hearing loss is not present.
Without identifying a definitive cause, researchers have identified several conditions that contribute to tinnitus or are closely related to it, including:
- Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL)
- Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL)
- Jaw or neck disorders
- Underlying medical conditions affecting the circulatory system (high blood pressure and vascular tumors)
- Various anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antidepressants, and antibiotic medications
- Untreated earwax buildup
- Malformation or dysfunction of the ear
- Head trauma
As you can see, many of these potential causes are not related to the auditory system, which leads to the next question.
Do Hearing Aids Cure Tinnitus?
It is true that many who wear hearing aids experience significant relief from tinnitus symptoms, but they cannot cure the condition.
This is likely due to the fact that sound processing provides a richer hearing experience that reduces your focus on tinnitus sounds.
Straining to hear is a major cause of individuals experiencing hearing challenges, so when you use hearing aids, they can help reduce your stress levels and help alleviate tinnitus symptoms.
Additionally, most hearing aids include integrated tinnitus relief features. These are easily controlled by your smartphone and provide relief through tinnitus masking.
However, it is critical to understand that tinnitus treatment is a secondary benefit of hearing aids, which are primarily designed to treat hearing loss, not tinnitus.
Other Treatments or Strategies for Addressing Tinnitus
In cases of tinnitus that are not associated with hearing loss, or in cases where hearing aids do not provide adequate relief, hearing care professionals have identified several proven treatments and strategies to help manage your tinnitus symptoms.
Therapies and strategies that do not use hearing aids may include:
- Sound therapy and tinnitus masking
- Stress reduction strategies
- Counseling using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)/acceptance commitment therapy (ACT)
- Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
- Medications to address circulatory issues as well as control anxiety and insomnia
The objective of all of these strategies is to aid in the process of rehabituation, or helping you reduce your focus on the sounds you hear, lessening its impact on daily living.
Fox Valley ENT’s Approach to Tinnitus Management
As is our approach with all of the patients who trust us with their care, our approach to tinnitus management is personalized to meet your unique needs.
Fox Valley Ear, Nose & Throat Associates will help you identify the treatment option best suited to your condition as well as your lifestyle by using proven strategies that meet your treatment objectives.
One of the most powerful tools we use includes educating our patients about their condition while providing the support and encouragement required to cope.
Give us a call at the clinic nearest you, or use the button below to contact us for more information about the tinnitus management strategies available or to schedule a tinnitus evaluation.