Ringing in the ears is a hearing-related medical condition called tinnitus. Hearing aids will not cure the ringing in your ears, but can help reduce and cover up the ringing with a "masking effect".
In this article, we'll discuss:
- What is tinnitus?
- What causes tinnitus?
- Will hearing aids cure tinnitus?
- What is the "masking effect"?
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus—often called “ringing in the ears”—is a hearing-related medical condition. People with tinnitus experience sound in one or both ears that doesn’t come from an outside source. This sound is often described as ringing, but some people hear hissing, clicking, buzzing, chirping, or roaring. The sound may be loud or soft, low-pitched or high-pitched, and occasional or frequent.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be related to many different underlying conditions. The most common cause is nerve-related hearing loss, which can be due to age, noise exposure, autoimmune (and other) disorders/syndromes, ototoxic medications, etc.
Will hearing aids cure tinnitus?
In most cases, the ringing itself is not a red flag for major health or life-threatening conditions, but it can be a major point of annoyance and/or stress and anxiety for folks who experience it.
While there is currently no cure for tinnitus, there are some helpful management and coping strategies that can provide relief from the ringing… namely, hearing aids.
Many people find the use of hearing aids (and/or other masking-type devices) to be quite effective at reducing the annoyance or noticeability of their tinnitus, ultimately making the tinnitus more bearable and less disruptive to their daily lives.
The masking effect of hearing aids
The hearing aid “masking effect” is just how it sounds—it covers up the unwanted tinnitus with sounds that you want and need to hear.
Hearing aids provide more dynamic sound stimulation to the ears and brain. This augmentation of sound/volume and improved delivery of external noises to the brain helps to reduce the brain’s “focus” on the ringing. It redirects its focus to the more interesting and dynamic sounds that it does not have access to naturally (due to hearing loss).
Although hearing aids are not a cure for tinnitus, a large number of hearing aid users do report being less bothered by their tinnitus while their hearing aids are in.