I recently had the chance to connect with a talented writer named Alex Pop at SayWhat Hearing (a wonderful organization dedicated to helping patients with hearing loss). Alex specializes in psychology, advertising, and hearing solution technologies, and focuses on educating readers on the beneficent power of hearing technology.
If you have tinnitus, it may make sense to invest in a pair of hearing aids.
Hearing loss and tinnitus are comorbid, meaning it is common for patients to experience both conditions simultaneously.
Hearing aids can provide a solution for hard of hearing individuals who want to cope with their tinnitus. This technology can serve as another treatment strategy for disciplined individuals willing to commit to the process and make the most of modern technology.
Hearing Aid Technology Is a Tool, Not A Miracle
Hearing aids are not a miracle cure that can be flicked on like a light switch. They are not a pair of prescription glasses that you instantly put on and see the world in clear 20/20. Your brain must adapt to the outpouring of incoming sounds once an audiologist fits you for hearing aids. This process of adjustment to a new pair of hearing aids can take a few weeks, even months.
You Have to Establish A Successful Relationship with Your Audiologist:
Only an audiologist or hearing aid specialist can fit you for hearing aids, making it crucial to your success that you develop a good relationship with this person. Where most people have had a bad experience at an ENT clinic or audiologist’s office, they won’t return.
Bad Audiologists vs. Good Audiologists:
Bad audiologists, with egos hardened by their med-school expertise, do not treat the person, only the condition.
I believe it isn’t enough to read a patient’s audiogram, strap on a pair of RICs, spend 10 minutes fitting them, and then hurriedly send the patient out the door. It isn’t enough to put someone in a pair of hearing aids and usher them out, even if those hearing aids are perfectly calibrated to that person’s level of hearing loss.
Good audiologists have a bedside manner and respect for each patient. Good audiologists will address your acoustic needs, and emotional needs. They’ll take the time to ‘hold your hand’ and ask you: “How does hearing loss affect your life?” & “What activities make your tinnitus worse?”
A good audiologist will reflect on your responses and go beyond the diagnosis, working with you to clarify the psychological & physiological roots of your tinnitus. Fortunately for you, you can read online reviews before coming into a clinic and choosing to do business with someone.
Tinnitus is an Emotional Condition:
Stress and tinnitus are cyclical; a vicious cycle. That’s why patients need to make new associations in the brain, and cognitively work to overcome the hard-wired fight or flight response that triggers tinnitus spikes.
You need to learn to be at home with your tinnitus. (Not comfortable, I know)
But by being aware of, and controlling the physiological responses that manifest your body, you cognitively work to control the disease. Your goal should be to anticipate the panic, understand your tinnitus and your body’s reaction to it – that way you can stop being afraid of it.
Your goal in seeking hearing aids for your tinnitus, therefore, should be to find a coping strategy that’s right for you. That way you can break the vicious stress/tinnitus cycle, give yourself a chance of proactively anticipating the panic that elicits tinnitus spikes, and start feeling in control.
Studies on Hearing Aids and Tinnitus Therapy
This study surveyed 230 hearing care professionals and found that 82% of their patients reported relief from their tinnitus symptoms after being fitted with hearing aids. Researchers found that (60%) of patients experienced minor relief to major relief of tinnitus when wearing hearing aids. Twenty-two (22) percent received major relief from their tinnitus symptoms. Less than 2% of patients experience a worsening of their tinnitus when wearing hearing aids, so this goes to show that hearing aids are not a solution for everyone.
Another study used fractal tones to help patients in tinnitus management. Researchers surveyed over 2000 tinnitus patients as they tried hearing aids for a period of 6 months. Since relaxing music has been shown to help individuals with hearing problems, participants were given hearing aids that had relaxing types of music built in.
They used a hearing aid model called the Widex Zen to increase patients listening thresholds, but also play relaxing music. Based on what is known about fractal technology, the Zen was able to play random, chime-like tones that were shown to relax patients and make tinnitus less noticeable. A 2017 pilot study, which followed up on the fractal tone study concluded that: “the progressive approach of treatment demonstrated should be of benefit to most individuals with tinnitus, and that the Widex Zen sound therapy is a worthwhile treatment for many tinnitus sufferers.”
Wondering what these soothing deep relaxation tones sound like? You can get an idea by sampling the anxiety relieving power of these deep relaxation tones here (part of Glenn’s Tinnitus Relief Project audio program).
To multiply your chances of success, consider combining the fractal tone functionality in hearing aids with other treatment options. These studies were able to determine that the strongest predictors of tinnitus were 1) long-term stress, and 2) coping strategies. Solution: lower your stress levels & learn to cope. Reach out to your audiologist (a good one!) to see if hearing aids make sense for you.
The human brain is plastic and it can change! You can adapt and learn to manage your tinnitus! You have a host of habituation strategies and treatment options available to you including meditation, tinnitus retraining therapy, yoga, diet, exercise, and individual tinnitus coaching. This is something to celebrate!
A Message of Hope:
The human being can adapt to any condition. We are hardy. The human mind and body can adapt to any environment you put us in.
“A person who has suddenly developed tinnitus is standing on a metaphorical fence. On one side is hope, positivity, and sense of personal power. On the other is fear, hopelessness, and despair.” – Glenn Schweitzer
I wanted to briefly thank this website’s author, Glenn Schweitzer, who I believe is providing sincere and honest content about an important topic in an industry filled with misinformation and stigma. He has lived through it and has actually been able to find lasting relief from his tinnitus. (Watch Glenn talk about the different levels of tinnitus habituation here.)
You Can Do It!
Help break the stigma associated with hearing loss! Share this article with your social media network. It’s only by educating others and spreading awareness that will we help create a calmer and more collected world.