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If I Have Ringing/Buzzing in My Ears and Have Hearing Loss, Won’t a Hearing Aid Just Make the Ringing/ Buzzing Sound Louder, To


By Ellen J. Verlo, M.A., CCC-A, Clinical Audiologist, Audiology Consultants

The short answer to this question is rarely. Hearing aids do not cause ringing/buzzing to become louder with a few exceptions. The ringing/buzzing is tinnitus. The majority of people who have tinnitus and wear hearing aids experience some relief when using their hearing aids. The amplified sound can have a masking effect. Sounds that are not usually heard cause the brain to become busy interpreting speech, noise, and music and no longer focuses on the tinnitus. Occasionally, tinnitus worsens with the use of hearing aids. The most common causes are hyperacusis, auditory fatigue, or reactive tinnitus.

Hyperacusis is the increased sensitivity to certain frequencies and volume ranges of sound. Everyday noises become unbearable or painfully loud. Hearing aids make sounds louder in the range where hearing loss exists. If the hearing aids are not adjusted properly, over-amplification can occur. Careful testing of loudness discomfort can provide limitations to the hearing aid response, which will allow amplification without discomfort.

Auditory fatigue may cause an increase in tinnitus perception when a wearer experiences periods of greater demands on the auditory system. This can happen when there is competing noise present while trying to process auditory information, such as trying to hear in a noisy place for long periods of time. There is a greater strain on the auditory system that can cause the tinnitus perception to be worse. Limiting hearing aid use to fewer hours a day may help.

Reactive tinnitus is the exacerbation or worsening of tinnitus after prolonged exposure to moderately low-intensity sounds. This change lasts for more than a day. It can be due to decreased sound tolerance, a history of worsening after exposure to moderately low intensity sounds, or after a session of tinnitus retraining therapy.

If you have questions or would like further information regarding this topic, please contact Audiology Consultants at 563-355-7712, or email Ellen at everlo@audiologyconsultants.com. Visit our website at audiologyconsultants.com.

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