I have tinnitus due to TBI. Can hearing aids help? A neurologist has advised me that hearing aids would not be worth the cost. Can you give me some guidance?
Tinnitus — or ringing in the ears — currently affects approximately 50 million people in the United States. Some conditions associated with tinnitus include traumatic brain injury, noise-induced hearing loss, medications, Meniere’s disease, circulation disorders, eighth nerve tumors, and impacted ear wax. Noise exposure is the next leading cause of tinnitus, followed by head and neck trauma.
To determine whether hearing aids can help, you should have your hearing evaluated by an audiologist to find out if a hearing loss is present. Audiologists are health care professionals who evaluate and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance. If your tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss then there is a good chance a hearing aid will not only help you hear better but will also help relieve your tinnitus. Hearing aids help to make external sounds louder while helping to mask the tinnitus.
If hearing loss is not present then your audiologist can recommend other effective ways to manage your tinnitus. Current forms of tinnitus management include avoiding and reducing irritants (i.e. medications, nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol), masking the tinnitus (i.e. fan, soft music, white noise machine, tinnitus masker), stress management (i.e. biofeedback, relaxation therapy, hypnosis), and counseling. If untreated, tinnitus can cause concentration difficulties and sleep disturbances as well as affect personal relationships and mental health.
Further information on hearing loss, hearing aids, and tinnitus can be found on the American Speech-Language Hearing Associations website at http://www.asha.org/public/.
Janet Brown, MA, CCC-SLP spent twenty years in practice at the Veterans Administration Medical Center and at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, DC. She is the former director of Health Care Services at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.