What is the role of hearing aids in the treatment of tinnitus?

Updated: Feb 27, 2020
  • Author: Aaron G Benson, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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Answer

Answer

"If this tinnitus would stop, I could hear better!" is a common comment from patients with mild or moderate hearing loss. Patients often perceive no hearing loss and think that their tinnitus alone interferes with hearing. Improvement in the overall situation can be achieved by directing attention to the underlying problem (hearing loss). Characteristics of hearing loss have been studied and show no correlation with successful hearing aid use. Common sense suggests that residual inhibition characteristics of tinnitus and hearing loss determine which patients would be helped by hearing aids.

Unfortunately, such is not the case. The only way to determine if a hearing aid is successful is to try one. Success at treating tinnitus with hearing aids is about 50%. That is, about 50% of patients who try hearing aids are helped and are happy with the treatment. Many hearing aid dealers offer trial programs to determine suitability for individual patients. Studies demonstrate a benefit of ear-level devices (hearing aids and sound generators) in patients enrolled in comprehensive tinnitus management programs. [23] Patients who use hearing aids and sound generators show a greater improvement in their tinnitus severity index scores and self-rated tinnitus loudness.


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