McNeill et al (2012) report that “hearing aids have become common therapeutic tools in the audiological management of tinnitus.” They note that hearing aids are used in tandem with counseling and hearing aids serve as an important part of treatments, such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (Jastreboff and Jastreboff, 2000).
McNeill and colleagues performed a retrospective study of 70 patients (48 males, 22 female, mean age 55 years). Each patient had hearing loss and a primary or secondary complaint of “bothersome chronic tinnitus.” Of note, while wearing hearing aids (Oticon, Phonak or Widex) 26 patients reported their tinnitus was totally masked, 28 reported partial masking (i.e., 77 percent, or 54 of 70 reported partial or total masking) and 16 reported no masking. Tinnitus pitch masking revealed (on average) a perceived pitch of 6900 Hz. Of note, for the group that did not achieve masking (n=16, see above)they reported a mean tinnitus pitch perceived at 8000 Hz (the average perceived tinnitus pitch for the partial masking group was 7,600 Hz and for the total masking group was 5,400 Hz). The authors note the patients who had the most tinnitus relief via their hearing aid fittings had tinnitus matching results within the frequency range of the hearing aids.
McNeill et al report that their results indicate hearing aid fittings may be useful in the management of tinnitus because hearing aids reduce the audibility of tinnitus and hearing aids improve the patient’s reaction to tinnitus. The authors recommend hearing aid fittings to treat tinnitus in patients with hearing loss. Further, they note the best results are obtained when the patient has good low-frequency hearing, a strong reaction to their tinnitus and when the tinnitus pitch is perceived to be (i.e., matched) within the fitting range of the hearing aid.
For More Information, References, and Recommendations
Baigi A, Oden A, Almlid-Larsen V, Barrenas ML, Holgers KM. (2011) Tinnitus in the General Population With a Focus on Noise and Stress—A Public Health Study. Ear & Hearing 32(6):787–789.
Beck DL. (2011) Hearing Aid Amplification and Tinnitus: 2011. Hearing Journal64(6):12–14.
Eggermont JJ. (2012) Current Issues in Tinnitus. In Translational Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience. Editors: Tremblay KE, Burkard RF. Plural Publishing. Pages 123–163.
Henry JA, Zaugg TL, Myers PJ, Kendall CJ. (2012) Progressive Tinnitus Management, NCRAR, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs. Reviewed/Updated Date: March
Jacobson G. (2012) Tinnitus Relief- At What Cost? Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23(2):80.
Jastreboff PJ, Jastreboff MM. (2000) Tinnitus Treatment Therapy as a Method for Treatment of Tinnitus and Hyperacusis Patients. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 11:162-177.
Kochkin S, Tyler R, Born J. (2011) MarkeTrak VIII: The Prevalence of Tinnitus in the United States and the Self-Reported Efficacy of Various Treatments. Hearing Review18(12):10–26
McNeill C, Tavora-Vieira D, Alnafjan F, Searchfield GD, Welch D. (2012) Tinnitus Pitch, Masking and the Effectiveness of Hearing Aids for Tinnitus Therapy. International Journal of Audiology 51:914-919.
Moller A. (2012) Hyperactive Disorders of the Auditory System. In Hearing-Anatomy, Physiology and Disorders of the Auditory System. Chapter 10. Pages 321-340. Published by Plural Publishing.
Newman CW, Sandridge SA. (2012) A Comparison of Benefit and Economic Value Between Two Sound Therapy Tinnitus Management Options. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:126–138.
Tyler RS, (2012) Patient Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Tinnitus Treatment.Journal of the American Academy of Audiology 23:115–125.
Wible CG. (2012) The Brain Bases of Phantom Auditory Phenomena—From Tinnitus to Hearing Voices. Seminars in Hearing 33(3).