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Tinnitus and Hearing Aids | Are They The Closest Thing To A Cure for Tinnitus?

By: Dr Cliff Olson
November 28, 2018
Video Transcript

Tinnitus, or ringing the ears, is an extremely common condition that effects over 50 millions Americans, according to the American Tinnitus Association, which is roughly 15% of the US Population.One of the most common theories behind the cause of tinnitus is the brain's response to the absence of sound caused by a hearing loss.  When the brain can't receive sound from the ears, it creates a phantom sound to replace it.  

This is often perceived as a ringing or buzzing sound and can vary in the loudness and annoyance of it.  I have a hearing loss and tinnitus in my right ear.  My tinnitus is in the range of my hearing loss at 2 kHz, slightly louder than my hearing threshold at that frequency.  The reason hearing aids are so good at reducing the perception of tinnitus, is that it replaces this sound that the brain is missing.  Thereby shutting of the phantom sound.  This works for 60% of individuals with tinnitus and hearing loss. Some of these individuals also experience residual inhibition which is the the reduction of tinnitus perception even after removing hearing aids.  This inhibited perception of tinnitus can last for a few minutes to several hours.  

Personally, I am one of the 40% of individuals who has no reduction in the perception of my tinnitus while wearing a hearing aid.  For these individuals, using a tinnitus masker is the best option.  This is when a sound is generated by a hearing aid that masks over the perception of the ringing or buzzing tinnitus sound.  It is important to note that there is NO CURE FOR TINNITUS.  The perception of tinnitus is a symptom.  While the symptom can be managed, you can not cure tinnitus by treating the symptom.  But that doesn't mean that you can't experience significant relief from the tinnitus by using hearing aids.  In fact, Hearing Aids are one of the best tinnitus treatments that exist.

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