Which Hearing Aid is "Best" for Tinnitus?
Question: I recently learned that I have hearing loss, so I’m wondering, since I also have tinnitus, which hearing aid would be best?
Beth Field, AuD: It may not be a clear choice when it comes to deciding which brand of amplification is the best option for you. In my experience, the best hearing aid brand is the one that you can wear comfortably and successfully. Remember, hearing aids are assistive communication devices; their purpose is to help amplify sounds for improved hearing. As an added benefit, hearing aids can provide tinnitus relief in many instances.
Most hearing aid manufacturers have unique sound therapy options embedded into their devices. Some people find that simply wearing hearing aids gives them relief from tinnitus without activating the specialized tinnitus program that can be utilized when needed. On the other hand, some people listen to the therapeutic sounds programmed to their hearing aids to help minimize the perception of their tinnitus. They may situationally use the sound therapy function for an hour or two, or throughout the day, to help them relax, concentrate, or tune out tinnitus. Though each manufacturer’s tinnitus program is different, the goal is the same: to reduce the perception of tinnitus while wearing hearing devices.
If you are a first-time hearing aid user, there can be some trial and error with the use of your hearing aids. Having an audiologist who can effectively counsel and educate you on the use of your hearing aids is just as important as the brand of hearing aids you wear. If you are selecting hearing aids to help manage your tinnitus, it is important to remember that the hearing aids must first meet your communication needs. You should work closely with your audiologist to set reasonable expectations around the use of your hearing aids for successful outcomes. Which is to say, if you don’t wear hearing aids consistently, you won’t benefit fully from their intended use. By considering your degree of hearing loss, lifestyle, and tinnitus needs, your audiologist can help you determine which hearing device best suits your needs.
Your degree of hearing loss is the first determining factor; however, some other factors can be considered when selecting which hearing aid style and brand will make a good match for you. If managing tinnitus is a top priority, you should learn about each manufacturer’s tinnitus program to make an informed decision. Your audiologist may also have a brand they feel more confident using, which could also lead to better results. Another benefit to using hearing aids for tinnitus management is that they can be used in addition to other tinnitus management therapies, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and Tinnitus Retraining Therapy.
Through close collaboration with your audiologist, you should be able to find the right hearing aids for your needs.
Beth Field received her audiology degree from the University of Cincinnati in Ohio. She also has a master’s degree in linguistics from Ohio University. As a licensed audiologist, Dr. Field has worked for device manufacturers training audiologists how to use new hearing aid technology and tinnitus treatment devices, in addition to presenting at state and national audiology conventions. She is a member of the ATA’s Tinnitus Advisors Program.