The constant ringing, buzzing, swooshing or other unique noises with no outside cause or source is what is referred to as tinnitus and more commonly called “ringing in the ear”. Although tinnitus does not cause hearing loss, many people with hearing loss do suffer from it.
Thus, tinnitus and loss of hearing are very closely related. It is estimated that about 9 out of 10 sufferers of tinnitus also suffer from some loss of their hearing. A hearing test is a must to find the actual cause of the tinnitus and the extent, if any, of the hearing loss.
Tinnitus is a real condition, not just imagined, and can be quite disturbing and depressing to the sufferer.
Since it is often caused by damage to the microscopic nerve endings in the inner ear, it is no wonder that hearing loss often accompanies tinnitus. This same nerve damage inhibits the hearing apparatus of the ear from functioning properly.
Sufferers of both tinnitus and hearing loss, no matter how slight, should avoid being around loud noises such as airplane engines, heavy machinery, extremely loud music (rock concerts), or blaring IPods. If it is inevitable to be near such noises or if one’s occupation requires such, one must wear protective gear.
Tinnitus itself does not interfere with hearing. What it can do is interfere with ones attention level.
It also makes sense to say that tinnitus does appear to be more severe with hearing loss. There is now an absence of the outside noises which are no longer covering up the tinnitus.
In some cases, a hearing aid is the only solution to improving one’s hearing. Sometimes, the hearing aid will actually eliminate the tinnitus. In other situations, it does continue or seem worse with the improved hearing, and the tinnitus sounding louder.
Tinnitus maskers are often tried if it persists for the hearing aid wearer. An audiologist can recommend a wearable masker for the sufferer of this which is often a combination of hearing aid and masker.
After evaluating the tinnitus by determining the frequency and loudness of one’s tinnitus and the amount of hearing loss, the specialist will know which masker is right for the patient.
The tinnitus masker is worn much like a hearing aid. Its job is not to amplify sound but to produce a steady sound that is more palatable to the person than the incessant noise one hears from his tinnitus. The brain will usually block out the sounds produced by the tinnitus and hear the more pleasant and natural sounds produced by the masker.
If you are suffering from both tinnitus and hearing loss, do see an ear and auditory specialist to determine the cause of your tinnitus and the extent (if any) of your hearing problem. Your tinnitus may not even be related to your hearing loss and can be resolved on it’s on.
If the tinnitus is both loud and persistent and hearing is also poor, the hearing aid may take care of both issues. If not, a combination hearing aid and masker can be prescribed.