People often complain that they would be able to hear just fine if it weren’t for the incessant ringing in their ears. Actually, it’s the other way around. Hearing loss is typically the underlying cause of tinnitus.
When the cells in the inner ear (cochlea) are damaged, hearing loss occurs. Hearing loss can be caused by noise exposure, age, genetic contributors, or other disease processes. This can vary in severity and frequency, and is different for almost everyone.
There is a dedicated part of your brain that only responds to auditory input from your ears. When you experience hearing loss, your brain is deprived of that auditory input to a certain degree. That part of your brain that responds to input from the ear continues to look for sound it once heard (or in some cases, never heard). In a misguided effort to protect you, the auditory portion of your brain increases its sensitivity and effectively creates a phantom sound. This phantom sound is what we know as tinnitus.
Hearing aids are often an effective treatment to help with tinnitus. By providing the brain with the input it is designed to receive from the ear (that is not functioning as it should), we can give it what it’s craving. Sound. This is not a cure, but can very effectively reduce the intrusiveness of tinnitus and often turn down the volume of tinnitus in certain cases. To learn more about your hearing, how it can cause tinnitus, and how to treat tinnitus, please schedule an appointment with one of our audiologists.