All About Tinnitus: Part 3, Treatment for Tinnitus

  • By pugetsound
  • 02 Sep, 2016
In the first two sections of this three part series we discussed the experience of tinnitus and the types and causes of tinnitus . The bothersome ringing in the ear – otherwise known as tinnitus – is truly the bane of a hearing loss sufferer’s existence. The experience of phantom sounds coming seemingly from within the head can sometimes be even worse than hearing loss itself. So extreme can some cases of tinnitus become that it has profound psychological as well as mental impact. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to treat tinnitus – just like hearing loss. Because these two ailments are often coupled (studies show that most with tinnitus also suffer from hearing loss) they are often treated in similar ways. So, how it tinnitus treated and what options are available to you if you suffer from tinnitus? Here’s what you need to know about treating your tinnitus.

Hearing loss and tinnitus – what do they have in common?

To understand how tinnitus is treated, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences between tinnitus and hearing loss . While not the same, tinnitus and hearing loss have quite a bit in common, from the causes to the way they are handled by audiologists and hearing specialists. Hearing loss is often caused by damage within the ear, which impedes the brain’s perception of sound. This is often caused by prolonged exposure to loud sound, which damages the delicate inner-workings of the ear. This same exposure can cause tinnitus. It’s one of the reasons we often have a ringing in the ear after experiencing an extremely loud sound close to the ear, like a gun shot or explosion. That’s because these sounds can cause damage to the small fibers that vibrate and help us perceive sound. With too much stimulation either over a short or a long period of time, these become damaged and cannot operate correctly. Though not all cases of tinnitus are caused by exposure to excessive sound (and many cases of tinnitus don’t have an identifiable cause), they are often treated with the use of a hearing aid, just like hearing loss.

How do you treat tinnitus?

Unless the type of tinnitus is caused by a malfunction of the ear, most cases of tinnitus cannot be “cured”. Subjective tinnitus accounts for the vast majority of cases, and is not reversible or curable with medical intervention. Instead, tinnitus is most often treated with something called sound therapy. Sound therapy uses other sounds to help the brain re-focus on other, less bothersome sounds and ignore problem tinnitus sounds. These sounds are often calming, like white noise. Some cases of tinnitus are treated with frequent sound therapy sessions during times when tinnitus is at its worst, like at night.

How does a hearing aid treat tinnitus?

Some cases of tinnitus are nearly constant, and can interfere with hearing in general. In these cases, many hearing aids are equipped with specialized sound settings that effectively work like sound therapy. Hearing aids can use low frequency, quiet sounds to help provide additional stimulation to the brain to “drown out” ringing from tinnitus. Depending on the sufferer, these settings can be adjusted to match the needs of the wearer.

What are the best types of hearing aids for tinnitus?

Nearly every manufacturer makes hearing aids especially designed for tinnitus , with varying but similar styles of sound therapy. One hearing aid that’s proven to ease the discomfort of tinnitus is the Widex Zen. This state-of-the-art hearing aid combines sound stimulations, amplification and Zen fractal tones to ease tinnitus. Another favorite for tinnitus therapy is Starkey Xino Tinnitus, which uses very quiet white noise therapy to distract the brain from bothersome ringing or buzzing. Last but not least is the ReSound LiNX TS, which uses a combination of therapies to “blend” tinnitus into the background. This is highly customizable by an audiologist, and can be set to match the wearer’s preferences. Think you’re suffering from tinnitus or hearing loss – or both? Contact our team about a hearing test, and learn about how hearing aids can help you live a fuller and happier life with tinnitus.

Puget Sound Hearing & Audiology

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