Can Hearing Aids Make Tinnitus Worse

Explore the connection between hearing aids and tinnitus. Can hearing aids make tinnitus worse? Dive in to uncover myths and truths. As someone passionate about hearing health and eager to provide helpful suggestions, I understand the concerns and questions surrounding tinnitus and the potential impact of hearing aids on its symptoms. Tinnitus, often described as a persistent ringing, buzzing, or humming sound in the ears, can be a distressing condition affecting millions worldwide. This article will explore the relationship between hearing aids and ear ringing, providing helpful suggestions and reasons for our recommendations.

Understanding Tinnitus And Its Causes

Tinnitus is a subjective perception of sound in the absence of any external source. It can manifest as a variety of sounds, such as ringing, buzzing, hissing, or even music. While the exact cause of tinnitus is not always clear, it is often associated with conditions such as age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, ear infections, or underlying medical issues. Understanding the underlying causes of tinnitus is crucial in finding effective management strategies.

What Is Tinnitus?

As a researcher of hearing health, I can tell you that tinnitus is a common condition that affects about 15-20% of people. It’s characterized by the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is present.

What Are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electronic devices you wear in or behind your ear. They amplify sound so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and participate more fully in daily activities.

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids consist of a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. The hearing aid receives sound through the microphone, which converts the sound waves to electrical signals and sends them to an amplifier. The amplifier increases the power of the signals and then sends them to the ear through a speaker.

Are Hearing Aids A Cure For Tinnitus?

How Hearing Aids Can Help With Tinnitus

Hearing aids are commonly used to amplify external sounds and improve hearing for individuals with hearing loss. However, they can also play a significant role in managing ear ringing. Many modern hearing aids come equipped with an ear-ringing masking feature, which helps reduce the perception of tinnitus sounds. By providing additional sound stimuli, such as gentle white noise or soothing tones, hearing aids can help distract the brain from focusing on the tinnitus sounds, providing relief to individuals with tinnitus.

Do Hearing Aids Intensify Tinnitus?

Hearing aids don’t typically intensify tinnitus; in fact, they often help manage it. Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss. By amplifying ambient sounds, hearing aids can make tinnitus less noticeable in contrast. This masking effect can provide relief to many individuals. Additionally, some hearing aids come with built-in tinnitus maskers or sound generators that produce white noise or other sounds to help distract from the tinnitus. However, individual experiences vary. For a minority, hearing aids might initially seem to highlight tinnitus as the brain adjusts to amplified sounds. It’s essential to work closely with an audiologist to select the right device, ensure proper fitting, and make necessary adjustments. Regular follow-ups and consultations can optimize the benefits and address any concerns related to tinnitus or hearing aid usage.

Why Is My Tinnitus Worse With Hearing Aids?

If your tinnitus seems worse with hearing aids, several reasons could explain this:

  1. Adjustment Period: When first using hearing aids, the brain might become more aware of sounds, including tinnitus, as it adjusts to amplified sounds.
  2. Improper Fit or Settings: If the hearing aid doesn’t fit well or isn’t adjusted correctly, it can exacerbate tinnitus.
  3. Feedback: A whistling sound from the hearing aid can sometimes be mistaken for increased tinnitus.
  4. Occlusion Effect: This is when the ear mold is too tight, making internal sounds (like your own voice) seem louder.
  5. Amplification of Certain Frequencies: Some hearing aids amplify specific frequencies that may align with your tinnitus pitch, making it more noticeable.

It’s crucial to consult with an audiologist to pinpoint the cause and adjust your hearing aids or explore other tinnitus management strategies.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Hearing Aids For Tinnitus

When considering hearing aids for tinnitus management, consulting with an audiologist or hearing care professional is essential. They can conduct a thorough evaluation of your hearing and ear ringing symptoms and recommend the most suitable hearing aid options. Additionally, the choice of hearing aid style can impact its effectiveness in managing tinnitus. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids with open-fit designs are often preferred as they allow ambient sounds to enter the ear, masking the tinnitus sounds effectively.

The Connection Between Hearing Aids And Tinnitus

So, can hearing aids make tinnitus worse? Well, it isn’t very easy. Hearing aids can actually help reduce the symptoms of ear ringing by improving hearing and reducing the strain of listening, which can help divert your attention away from the ear ringing. However, in some cases, hearing aids might seem to exacerbate tinnitus symptoms.

Will Tinnitus Go Away With Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids can help manage tinnitus but don’t typically cure it. Tinnitus often accompanies hearing loss, and hearing aids amplify ambient sounds, making tinnitus less noticeable. Some people experience significant relief from tinnitus while using their hearing aids, while others notice only a mild reduction in their tinnitus perception. Additionally, some hearing aids come with tinnitus maskers or sound generators that produce white noise or other sounds to distract from tinnitus. However, tinnitus may still be present once the hearing aid is removed. It’s essential to understand that hearing aids can effectively manage tinnitus. They are typically part of a broader tinnitus management strategy, not a standalone cure. Consulting an audiologist is crucial to determine the best approach.

Situations Where Hearing Aids Might Make Tinnitus Worse

This usually happens when the hearing aid is set too loud or when the device doesn’t fit correctly, causing an occlusion effect that amplifies the perception of tinnitus. Remember, it’s about perception; hearing aids do not physically worsen ear ringing but may lead to increased awareness of it.

Ways To Mitigate The Impact Of Hearing Aids On Tinnitus

Proper Use Of Hearing Aids

As someone who is well-versed in hearing health, I recommend using hearing aids correctly. Make sure the volume is at an appropriate level, and get a regular checkup to ensure the device is working optimally.

Choosing The Right Hearing Aid

Choosing a hearing aid is a crucial step. Hearing aids come with different features. Some have a tinnitus masker, which can play sounds to distract you from ear ringing. Talk to your audiologist about the best options for you.

The Role Of Sound Therapy

Sound therapy can be an excellent complement to hearing aids in managing tinnitus. By introducing additional sounds, your brain can be trained to focus less on the ear-ringing noise.

How Long Does It Take For Hearing Aids To Help Tinnitus?

The time it takes for hearing aids to help with tinnitus varies among individuals. For many, relief can be noticed within days to weeks as the amplified ambient sounds help mask tinnitus. For others, especially if they’re new to hearing aids, there might be an adjustment period where the brain is getting accustomed to the enhanced sounds. This period can last several weeks to a few months. During this time, the perceived intensity of tinnitus might fluctuate. Regular consultations with an audiologist are essential to fine-tune the hearing aid settings, ensuring optimal benefit. Some hearing aids also have built-in tinnitus maskers, which can provide additional relief. Persistence and patience are essential, as is open communication with your audiologist to achieve the best results.

Potential Risks And Precautions

While hearing aids can relieve ear ringing, it is essential to note that there may be a temporary adjustment period. Initially, the brain may focus on the amplified ear-ringing sounds, making them more noticeable. However, over time, with consistent use and proper programming by a professional, most individuals experience significant improvement. Working closely with an audiologist during the adjustment period is crucial to ensure optimal settings and avoid any potential worsening of tinnitus symptoms.

Proper Usage And Maintenance Of Hearing Aids

To maximize the benefits of hearing aids for tinnitus management, proper usage, and maintenance are vital. Regular cleaning and maintenance of the hearing aids, as recommended by the manufacturer, help ensure optimal performance. Additionally, the fitting and adjustment of the hearing aids should be carefully monitored by a professional to ensure they are providing the desired relief from ear ringing.

How Do You Deal With Severe Tinnitus

How Do You Deal With Severe Tinnitus

Dealing with severe tinnitus requires a multifaceted approach:

  1. Medical Evaluation: First, consult with an audiologist or ENT specialist to rule out underlying causes like earwax blockage or infections.
  2. Hearing Aids: If hearing loss is present, aids can amplify ambient sounds, making ear ringing less noticeable.
  3. Sound Therapy: White noise machines, fans, or tinnitus maskers can help drown out the ringing.
  4. Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can help you cope, change the way you think about the condition, and reduce anxiety associated with it.
  5. Relaxation Techniques: Stress can exacerbate tinnitus. Techniques like meditation, deep breathing, and yoga can help manage stress.
  6. Medication: Some find relief with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
  7. Avoid Triggers: Limit exposure to loud noises, and reduce caffeine or alcohol if they exacerbate your ear ringing.

Individual experiences vary, so finding what works best for you is essential.

Additional Treatment Options For Tinnitus

While hearing aids can be effective in managing ear ringing for many individuals, there are additional treatment options available. Sound therapy, which involves the use of external sounds to mask or distract from ear ringing, can be utilized alongside hearing aids. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is another approach that can help individuals develop coping strategies and change their emotional response to tinnitus, reducing its impact on daily life.

Lifestyle Changes To Manage Tinnitus

In addition to wearing hearing aids, certain lifestyle changes can also contribute to better ear-ringing management. Adopting healthy habits, such as regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management techniques, can help reduce the severity of ear-ringing symptoms. Limiting exposure to loud noises and using ear protection in noisy environments is also advisable, as excessive noise can worsen tinnitus.

Hearing Aid For Tinnitus Cost

The cost of hearing aids designed to assist with tinnitus varies widely based on brand, features, and geographic location. Basic devices cost around $1,000 to $2,000 per ear on the lower end. Mid-range models range between $2,500 to $4,000. Premium models with advanced tinnitus masking features and other functionalities can exceed $5,000 per ear. Checking with local providers is crucial, as prices and available features can differ.

Best Hearing Aid For Tinnitus

The best hearing aid for tinnitus is highly individualized based on the user’s hearing profile and needs. Widex, Starkey, and ReSound are among the brands offering devices with tinnitus-specific features. For instance, Widex’s “ZEN” program uses fractal tones to counteract tinnitus. ReSound offers tinnitus sound therapy through its devices. When selecting, prioritize comfort, sound quality, and the device’s ability to mask or manage tinnitus effectively. Consultation with an audiologist is essential.

Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids For Tinnitus

Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have emerged as accessible alternatives to traditional devices. For individuals with tinnitus:

  1. Cost-Effective: OTC hearing aids are generally less expensive than prescription devices.
  2. Amplification: By enhancing ambient sounds, they can help mask tinnitus.
  3. No Prescription Required: You can purchase without an audiologist’s recommendation.
  4. Limitations: They might not be as tailored to individual hearing loss profiles as prescription devices.
  5. Tinnitus Features: Some OTC models offer tinnitus masking features, but these can vary in effectiveness.
  6. Consultation: Even if opting for OTC, it’s wise to consult an audiologist to ensure the device is suitable and to discuss tinnitus management.

Individual experiences vary, and not all OTC aids will benefit every tinnitus sufferer.

Does Insurance Cover Hearing Aids For Tinnitus?

Insurance coverage for hearing aids varies. While some insurance plans may partially cover or offer discounts on hearing aids for ear ringing, many do not. Medicaid may provide coverage for eligible individuals in certain states. You must check with your specific insurance provider and policy to determine coverage and any related requirements or limitations.

Can You Live A Long Life With Tinnitus

You can live a long life with tinnitus. Tinnitus, a condition characterized by ringing or buzzing in the ears, is common and affects millions of people worldwide. While it can be distressing and affect one’s quality of life, it’s not life-threatening. Many individuals with tinnitus learn to manage and cope with the condition through various strategies like sound therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques. Addressing underlying causes, such as hearing loss with hearing aids or treating earwax blockage, can also provide relief. It’s essential to consult with an audiologist or ENT specialist to discuss your symptoms and potential treatments. Remember, while tinnitus can be challenging, many live long lives despite the condition.


In conclusion, hearing aids can play a valuable role in managing ear-ringing symptoms. By incorporating a tinnitus masking feature, they provide relief by diverting attention from the persistent sounds. However, it is crucial to consult with an audiologist to ensure the appropriate hearing aid style and settings for optimal results. Alongside hearing aids, adopting healthy habits, protecting ears from loud noises, and exploring additional treatment options can further contribute to effective tinnitus management. Remember, the information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and personalized guidance.

Please note that this article should not replace professional medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can hearing aids completely cure tinnitus?

They cannot cure tinnitus but can significantly reduce the perception and impact of ear-ringing sounds, providing relief for many individuals.

2. Are all hearing aids suitable for tinnitus management?

Not all devices are designed explicitly for ear-ringing management. It is essential to consult an audiologist who can recommend hearing aids with ear-ringing masking features.

3. Can wearing hearing aids worsen ear ringing?

While there may be an initial adjustment period, properly programmed and fitted hearing aids should not worsen ear ringing. Working closely with an audiologist is crucial to avoid any potential aggravation.

4. Are there any alternative therapies for ear ringing?

Yes, alternative therapies such as sound therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be beneficial in managing ear ringing alongside hearing aids.

5. How long does it take for hearing aids to relieve ear ringing?

The time it takes for hearing aids to relieve ear ringing can vary from individual to individual. With consistent use and appropriate programming, most individuals experience improvement within a few weeks or months.

6. What types of hearing aids are best for tinnitus?

Hearing aids that include ear-ringing masking features can be particularly helpful. Discuss this with your audiologist.

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Mark Collins

Mark Collins established this website passionate about helping as many people as possible live better lives by supporting healthy hearing, educating others about ear ringing and tinnitus, and providing the best information for everyone.

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