Tinnitus is the perception of sounds such as ringing, buzzing or hissing within the ear when these sounds are not present in the environment. Tinnitus is experienced by an estimated 50 million Americans and is usually associated with sensorineural hearing loss. When ear wax or any foreign object touches the eardrum, it can block outside noise from coming in, and noises in the ear can be the results. The brain tries to compensate for missing sounds by replacing them with phantom sounds. The same thing occurs with a noise induced hearing loss, where damage is done to the inner ear, and the brain is replacing missed sounds with phantom sounds. 90% of tinnitus suffers have some level of noise induced hearing loss.
If you have, or suspect you have, tinnitus you should set up a hearing evaluation to determine what options are available for managing it. When it is determined that there are no specific medical issues involved, there are several options to consider. In the majority of cases, the individual experiencing tinnitus also has a hearing loss. The use of a hearing aid to amplify sounds can help cover up the tinnitus and make it less distracting. Other devices are also available that generate sounds to help mask the tinnitus. Combined with counseling from a hearing healthcare professional, these devices can be used to teach the individual how to reduce or remove the distraction of the tinnitus.
Beltone offers hearing instruments that can be used as both a hearing aid and sound generator for managing tinnitus. The Tinnitus Breaker™ feature of the Beltone Reach™ hearing instrument produces white noise, a low volume noise of mixed frequencies that makes the distressing tinnitus noise less noticeable. As the brain adjusts to this new way of perceiving sounds, the emotional importance associated with the tinnitus is reduced.