Does it feel like you have a buzzing or ringing sound in your ear but you don’t where the sound is coming from? It could be that you have tinnitus, just like more than 200,000 New Zealanders, according to research from the University of Auckland.

200,000

More than 200,000 New Zealander have tinnitus, according to research from the University of Auckland

 Tinnitus can sound like hissing, ringing, clicking, humming or be a pulsating sensation in one or both ears. But while it can sound very real, there is no external source to the noise and no one else can hear it.

Fortunately for some people, they will only experience tinnitus occasionally and the symptoms are relatively mild. However, for others, they hear the sounds constantly and it can affect their concentration and reduce the enjoyment of listening and communicating with others. Tinnitus can also cause confusion, frustration, depression, isolation and insomnia.

Causes of tinnitus

Tinnitus can affect anyone, but you are more prone to developing tinnitus as you get older and it’s often linked with age-related hearing loss. Tinnitus symptoms can start at any time, even if you are just sitting quietly, driving or on the phone. Some of the common causes of tinnitus include:

  • Exposure to loud noise (also linked to noise-induced hearing loss)
  • Certain medications
  • Ageing
  • Earwax blockage
  • Injury to the ears, head or neck
  • Neurological disorders
  • Deterioration of bones in the middle ear
  • Upper respiratory infections

Do hearing aids help tinnitus?

Tinnitus and hearing loss often go hand in hand. Around 80% of people experiencing tinnitus also having hearing loss. Hearing loss can affect the signals sent from the ear to the brain, which can result in unwanted activity in the brain, known as tinnitus. The perceived sound of tinnitus can be acutely distracting and make it hard to concentrate on other sounds. Hearing aids for tinnitus masking enables you to hear everything going on around you, while at the same time providing relief from the internal sounds of tinnitus. This makes hearing aids an effective treatment for both tinnitus and hearing loss.

Hearing aids for tinnitus

Along with amplifying external sounds, the best hearing aids for tinnitus masking also have tinnitus therapy built-in to the device which provides effective sound therapy for tinnitus that can be adjusted to help compensate for your hearing loss. Adding additional sounds to the sounds you are already hearing because of tinnitus may sound counterintuitive but it can be a surprisingly effective method for managing tinnitus. The hearing aids act as a tinnitus masker by bringing in external noises to disguise the troubling tinnitus sounds. This could be in the form of specific ear masking noises, low-level music, white noise, or your own customised sound.

These additional sounds mask the tinnitus so that the sound blends in with the background and is less prominent and doesn’t interfere with your life. While a hearing aid for tinnitus masking provides substantial relief, they may not be able to eliminate all of your tinnitus symptoms. However, allowing some tinnitus to remain audible does mean that you can become more familiar with the sounds and in conjunction with sound therapy, you can better manage your tinnitus symptoms when the masking sounds are shut off.

Best hearing aids for tinnitus

While not all hearing aids have tinnitus maskers and not all tinnitus maskers are hearing aids, the best hearing aids for tinnitus can do both jobs very effectively. Some hearing aids feature a tinnitus masker that produces broadband or narrowband noise at a low level which masks the sound of tinnitus. This type of masking noise is often called white noise. By combining the technology of hearing aids and tinnitus maskers, you can enjoy the benefits of both without having to switch between two devices.

If you think you have tinnitus schedule a consultation with your hearing care professional who will help you find the best hearing aid to relieve your symptoms so you can get on with enjoying your life.

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