In most cases, tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss or another condition. Whether hearing is lost through an injury, excessive noise levels over time or the aging process, the inner ear may adapt by trying to fill in the frequencies you’re no longer able to hear. The result is the perception of a ringing or buzzing sound that only you can hear. Due to this link, treating hearing loss with hearing aids or cochlear implants often treats tinnitus, as well.

Based on a 2007 survey of hearing health professionals, the American Tinnitus Association reports that 60 percent of patients treated for hearing loss experienced at least some tinnitus relief, while 22 percent described their relief as significant. Here are the reasons why hearing aids, especially those with masking devices, effectively treat tinnitus.

Hearing aids improve auditory stimulation

In the absence of outside sounds, you hear the internal ringing of tinnitus. Once those sounds (especially soft background noises) are re-introduced, your brain has new stimulation to process. This increased auditory stimulation helps your brain to re-orient to exterior versus interior sources of sound and may eliminate your perception of tinnitus, altogether.

Hearing aids improve the communication processes that tinnitus hinders

The perceived loudness of tinnitus can interfere with hearing others speak and communicating with those around you. Hearing aids amplify speech sounds so the ringing in your ears no longer drowns them out.

Digital hearing aids have supplemental sound-masking functions

You may be familiar with dedicated sound therapy devices that help mask tinnitus. Some of these are portable, and some even resemble hearing aids. Newer digital hearing aids are being designed to include built-in masking functions that feed low-level ambient or white noise into your ears. These can provide further relief from tinnitus for especially severe cases that aren’t fully treated by hearing aid amplification.

By addressing both hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms, hearing aids can provide one of the best solutions for those dealing with severe tinnitus. Contact an audiologist to find out if hearing aids with built-in tinnitus maskers could be the effective solution for your tinnitus.