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Are Tinnitus and Hearing Loss Connected?

Hearing Loss

Coping with hearing loss can be difficult. However, a potential issue that could aggravate the issue even more is tinnitus. Often described as a high-pitched whine or screech that only you can hear, tinnitus can be as minor as a temporary occurrence that lasts a few seconds to a long-lasting issue that affects you for hours and prevents you from sleeping at night. Everyone’s experience with tinnitus is different, but one commonly-discussed link with tinnitus is hearing loss.

Hearing loss and tinnitus often go hand-in-hand because they’re both caused by damage to the nerves in your inner ear. Any injury, even if minor, can result in hearing loss which also exposes you to tinnitus. In many cases, tinnitus can even be considered a symptom of hearing loss to some degree. However, there are plenty of people in the world that find both conditions aren’t always connected. Some people will only experience tinnitus while others don’t have tinnitus but do suffer from hearing loss.

Does hearing loss cause tinnitus?

Not always. The causes of hearing loss can also be considered the causes of tinnitus, but they’re not always directly related. For instance, tinnitus and hearing loss can both be caused by exposure to loud sounds, but tinnitus often only occurs for a short period after hearing a loud whereas hearing loss will occur if you’ve been exposed to a loud sound for a long time.

Similarly, hearing loss and tinnitus can both be caused by ear infections, but in both cases, dealing with the root cause can be an effective way to remedy both issues. It’s always best to speak to your audiologist so they can diagnose both your hearing loss and your tinnitus to see what the best solution would be.

Hearing aids are a common remedy for both hearing loss and tinnitus

Even if there is a link between your hearing loss and tinnitus, hearing aids can often help you solve both issues with a single device. A common method of dealing with tinnitus is to use a masking device that plays a noise at the same frequency that your tinnitus occurs. This will “mask” the sound and essentially erase it from your hearing, making it blur with the background noise and giving you a more comfortable listening experience.

Hearing aids will essentially allow you to hear the sounds that your ears have difficulty picking up, and this itself can already help to mask tinnitus. Modern hearing aids can even be programmed to act as sound machines that can help mask the effects of tinnitus, making them function as both a hearing aid and masking device. Their adjustable nature also makes them suitable for dealing with various levels of tinnitus and you can customize the settings to ensure you get the best masking available.

Audiologists have a plethora of different tools available to help you examine your ears, so they should be the first people you turn to if you’re struggling to cope with either hearing loss or tinnitus.