Anybody with tinnitus and hearing loss should be looking at hearing aids as their first treatment option. All Tinnitus UK audiologists are prepared to fit trial devices to demonstrate if hearing aids can help you. Simply by amplifying natural environmental sounds and the sounds of nature, a hearing aid can make the unpleasant ringing of tinnitus less prominent. In many cases, it'll appear to go completely.
Hearing aids can be used as part of a wider treatment plan to apply targeted sound therapy, but before we go that far, here are two simple facts:
The number one main cause of the tinnitus symptom is inner ear damage. Wear and tear on the hair or nerve cells in the cochlea prevents electrical signals from being transmitted as efficiently to and from the brain, and hearing loss occurs. It usually happens naturally as we get older, but it can also happen because of noise exposure, chemotherapy, radiation, trauma, drug ototoxicity, etc. It is not uncommon to have an imperceptible hearing loss that is causing the tinnitus.
It makes sense as the hearing loss was causing the tinnitus so why wouldn't correcting the hearing loss fix it again. But won't the tinnitus return once the hearing aids are removed? Sometimes it does return immediately but most of the time it returns sometime after the hearing aids are removed and often at a lower level. It does usually creep back to it's standard state but long term wear of hearing aids commonly keeps the tinnitus at bay.
When simple amplification isn't enough, hearing aids can go a step further by adding targeted sound therapy to the normal sounds you hear already. Each manufacturer of hearing aids has their own individual tinnitus solution so you may need to try a few to see which works best for you. Tinnitus UK works with independent audiologists to give you access to all makes and models.
You do not need a hearing loss to wear hearing aids to help you with your tinnitus! It is possible to have the amplification turned off whilst using the tinnitus modules on their own.
Nearly all hearing aids are able to have their tinnitus modules controlled by an Android and/or iPhone app. These can be extremely useful if you have variable tinnitus in either types of sounds, pitch, or loudness. An experienced audiologist specialising in tinnitus will be able to explain the many options available.
Hearing aids are available on the NHS but they are unable to provide the full range of tinnitus solutions that you'll be offered in the private market. If you have tried an NHS hearing aid, or indeed any hearing aid, and it has failed to help you with your tinnitus then that doesn't mean all hearing aids do not work. Try a few before you conclude that hearing aids are not the solution for you. There may also be a time period before the full benefits can be realised so you must also be patient and work closely with your audiologist.
In the UK, only audiologists are trained in both tinnitus and the fitting of hearing aids. Nobody else has this unique combination of skills to be able to help tinnitus sufferers. Hearing aids and the sound therapy they can provide through their tinnitus modules together with some form of councelling are considered the best treatments for tinnitus.