Hearing Aids For Tinnitus
Tinnitus is often characterized as a continuous ringing sound heard in the ears. According to the NHS, six million people in the UK are affected by the condition.
Hearing aids can be used to treat tinnitus through the use of an in-built tinnitus masker, which diverts your attention away from the ringing sound.
Tinnitus hearing aids can be bought privately through hearing aid specialists, or obtained on the NHS for free.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is typically described as a constant ‘ringing’ in the ears, although other noises can be heard including hissing and buzzing with some individuals even hearing noises comparable to music or singing. All these sounds originate from inside the body, as opposed to coming from an external source.
Tinnitus affects people of all ages, although it is most common in individuals over the age of 65. It is rarely an indication of a more serious condition. For most, it is only a minor irritation that comes and goes at different times.
In more severe cases, tinnitus can be a continuous problem and have a profound impact on an individual’s life causing sleep disruption and depression. In such cases, we recommend that you visit your GP to see if they are able to identify and treat its underlying cause in order to manage the severity of your tinnitus.
What Causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can occur gradually over time or come about suddenly, depending on its underlying cause. Tinnitus is often associated with many different conditions, with some of the most common being:
- Age-related hearing loss
- Build-up of earwax
- Inner ear damage from repeated exposure to loud noises
- Middle ear infection
- Abnormal bone growth in the middle ear due to otosclerosis
According to the NHS however, no obvious cause for tinnitus can be found in 1 in 3 people with the problem.
Can Tinnitus Be Cured?
Unfortunately there is no direct cure for tinnitus. Instead, your tinnitus can only be treated. While there is no single treatment for tinnitus that works for everyone, the treatment that will work best for you will depend on factors such as the cause of your tinnitus and your own personal preferences.
In cases where an underlying cause for tinnitus is found, effective treatment of the cause should help to improve your tinnitus. This means removing a build-up of earwax for example, or undergoing stapedotomy surgery for otosclerosis.
If an exact cause of your tinnitus cannot be identified, or if the cause of your tinnitus is incurable, treatments focus on helping you to manage the symptoms of tinnitus to improve your quality of life. Common treatments include:
- Sound therapy involves listening to other sounds to divert your attention away from your tinnitus
- Counselling aims to help you cope better with tinnitus
- Medication such as tricyclic antidepressants
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aims to help change the way you think about your tinnitus so it becomes less noticeable
Some individuals also find self-help methods useful for managing their tinnitus, including relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises.
Can Hearing Aids Treat My Tinnitus?
In many cases, tinnitus typically occurs as a symptom in those with underlying hearing loss. This type of hearing loss with tinnitus is known as presbycusis. In such cases, hearing aids can be an effective treatment for tinnitus.
The aim of hearing aids as a treatment for tinnitus is to alleviate your hearing loss with the assumption that the device will also improve your tinnitus. Wearing two hearing aids has been found to be more beneficial for tinnitus relief than wearing just one.
Hearing aids treat tinnitus through the use of a masker. Built into the hearing aid itself, a tinnitus masker is a small electronic device that adds artificial sound into your environment to draw attention away from the ringing sound of tinnitus. This makes it easier to listen to external sounds. The sound that tinnitus maskers typically emit is white noise, although some do also emit more natural sounds such as ocean waves.
There is no type of sound which is best for relieving tinnitus. The type of sound that will work best for you will depend on your circumstances and personal preferences. Generally speaking, people tend to prefer sounds which are pleasant and don’t demand too much attention to listen to.
You may only be prescribed hearing aids to treat your tinnitus, or you may be prescribed hearing aids as part of a larger package of care alongside additional treatments such as counselling. Your hearing care specialist will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for your tinnitus during your consultation.
What Are Some Of The Best Hearing Aids For Tinnitus?
Clinic Compare has researched feedback from patients and hearing care specialists to provide you with an overview of some of the best hearing aids on the market that are most effective at easing the effect of tinnitus.
Hearing aids for tinnitus come in a range of fitting styles, from more visible behind-the-ear (BTE) and receiver in-the-ear (RITE) models, to much smaller and more discreet types that sit in the ear such as in-the-canal (ITC) and completely in-the-canal (CIC) models. To find out more information on the different styles, visit our types of hearing aids page.
The table below shows you some of the best tinnitus hearing aids and how much they cost. The average price you should expect to pay for a pair of hearing aids with a tinnitus masker is approximately between £1,500 and £3,000.
|Soundlens Synergy i2400||Starkey||£3,500|
How Can I Get Hearing Aids To Treat My Tinnitus?
Hearing aids that treat tinnitus are available to purchase privately from hearing aid providers. If you suffer from hearing loss with tinnitus, your hearing expert will discuss what hearing aids are available to you, and how their tinnitus technology works to relieve your symptoms.
Many private hearing aid providers allow you to trial hearing aids for up to two weeks before you buy them. This provides you with a good opportunity to see how the tinnitus masker can alleviate your symptoms, and enables you to test which sounds you prefer.
Can I Get Hearing Aids For Tinnitus On The NHS?
There are a range of hearing aids with tinnitus maskers available to get on the NHS through your local audiology department. Despite these hearing aids being free, there is much less choice with the type of hearing aid you will be issued.
The NHS typically only offer patients a bulky behind-the-ear (BTE) model. Buying your tinnitus hearing aid privately will give you more access to much smaller and more hidden styles, which might be more appropriate if you feel insecure about wearing a hearing aid.