Tinnitus, or ringing (also commonly described as buzzing/chirping sounds) in the ears, can be a very debilitating problem. Unfortunately, tinnitus treatments are often complex and costly. One of the best, most cost-effective tinnitus treatments involves the use of hearing aids. In many cases, hearing aids are a “kill two birds with one stone” approach, and are helpful in both the correction of hearing loss and the reduction of tinnitus.
Below is a summary of a retrospective review of 70 patients with hearing loss and chronic tinnitus, courtesy of the American Academy of Audiology. The authors found that hearing aids can be a very effective treatment for tinnitus, and we agree. In fact, some of our most successful hearing aid patients initially began using hearing aids as a tool to help their tinnitus, only to later discover the added advantage of better hearing.
Hearing Aids as Tinnitus Therapy
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.
What is it like to not hear splashing of water when swimming or not be able to participate fully in Marco Polo with your friends at a pool party? Imagine hearing only silence. For Rachel, a 12 year old bilateral cochlear implant recipient and JHBI patient, situations such as these could not be experienced or fully enjoyed.
Rachel lost her hearing completely at age 5 years and quickly received a cochlear implant to each ear. Since her surgeries, Rachel uses her cochlear implant external sound processors to hear again. She has excelled in school and has even learned to play the violin. Rachel’s original sound processors were water resistant but not waterproof, and she could not use them while swimming or bathing and could not hear to communicate in these situations.
In March 2012, Rachel’s cochlear implant manufacturer, Advanced Bionics, released the first completely waterproof sound processor, the Neptune. When Rachel and her family learned of this new processor option, she immediately “had to have it”. After the Neptune was fit to her right ear, she immediately raced home and went swimming in her back yard.
Share with Rachel and her parents as she uses her new external cochlear implant Neptuneprocessor to enjoy swimming and hearing underwater for the first time.
The Bionic Ear Association is sponsoring an event in our area on December 8, 2012. Click here if you’re interested in trying or learning more about the Neptune processor while enjoying a guided boat tour of the St. Johns River!
A small study by the House Research Institute revealed that 72% of teens reported reduced hearing after attending a three-hour show. This type of hearing loss typically disappears within 48 hours, but if it occurs repeatedly, permanent hearing loss can develop, the study authors noted.
“I want the most discrete hearing aid possible so that I don’t look old.” This is heard almost daily during our hearing aid consultations. Despite the significant advancements in hearing aid size and technology, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: their stigma. Although a hearing aid is much less noticeable than the hearing loss itself, people continue to shy away from being properly amplified due to the perceived negative impact that it may have on their daily lives. Well, a young girl named Samantha wants to change your perspective on hearing aid use.
“Sean (her brother) and I were born with hearing loss. We both wear hearing aids. It’s not that hard to get used to wearing hearing aids. All you need to do is think of good things and then you put it in your ear and you hear better. That’s all there is to it!”
Samantha, age 8, has written a book about her experience with wearing hearing aids and an FM system at school. The book, called “Samantha’s Fun FM Unit and Hearing Aid Book” was written to explain why she wore her hearing aids at school and to help other hearing aid users (adults and children alike) feel the positive impact of hearing aids. The book not only examines Samantha’s perspective of hearing aids, but also teaches about daily use of the aids and FM system.
Some people experience unilateral hearing loss, or hearing loss in just one of their ears. Dr. Jacqueline Olson and her patient Brian Register talk about the solutions with a CROS hearing aid on another segment of First Coast Living.
Patients are often confused by the series of acronyms and abbreviations listed after their audiologist’s name. Listed below are common abbreviations used and a description of what they mean.
Au.D.: Au.D. is the abbreviation for Doctor of Audiology. Beginning in 2007, many states adopted the Au.D. as the entry level degree required to practice Audiology. Prior to the Au.D., a master’s degree was required for clinical practice. There are no longer any professional training programs offering a master’s degree in Audiology. To obtain an Au.D., you must obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete four years of graduate school.
CCC-A: CCC-A stands for Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology. This is a voluntary certificate issued by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). Professionals who have been awarded the CCC-A have completed a rigorous academic program and a supervised clinical experience and have passed a national examination.
F-AAA: F-AAA is the abbreviation used to delineate those audiologists who are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology. The American Academy of Audiology is the world’s largest professional organization of, by, and for audiologists. The active membership of more than 11,000 is dedicated to providing quality hearing care services through professional development, education, research, and increased public awareness of hearing and balance disorders.
ABA: If an audiologist uses the abbreviation “ABA” after their name, they have been awarded board certification in Audiology by the American Board of Audiology. To become board certified in audiology, one must maintain continuing education credits above and beyond what is simply required for clinical practice. ABA certification demonstrates a commitment to excellence through lifelong learning.
At JHBI, all of our audiologists have their CCC-A, are Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology, and are board certified in Audiology by the American Board of Audiology. When you visit our office Audiology care, rest assured that you will be seen by a professional with extensive training who has demonstrated a commitment to maintaining the highest levels of professional competency.
Today’s workforce features a changing demographic of aging employees. Between 2006 and 2016, the number of workers in the mature age group is expected to grow by 80 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many people are staying in the workforce longer due to tough economic times, in turn requiring hearing healthcare professionals to help keep those people as successful and productive as possible.
So what does this mean for the general public? It means people need to take charge of their health, including their hearing, so they can age productively and continue being successful at their jobs. Boomers should get their hearing checked routinely, and address any hearing loss as soon as possible.
According to the Better Hearing Institute, more than 34 million Americans suffer from hearing loss (about 11 percent of the U.S. population), and 60 percent of them are below retirement age. The vast majority of people with hearing loss can most likely benefit from hearing aids. Employers must also recognize the changing demographics of the workforce and make efforts to help maintain their valued employees, by encouraging healthy hearing habits.
If you have any questions regarding hearing loss, please contact our office at 904-399-0350.
Did you know that some of the latest Bluetooth technology can be used with hearing aids? Learn how from one of our audiologists, Dr. Jacqueline Olson, who was featured recently in a live segment on First Coast Living in Jacksonville, Fla.