Studies Show that Hearing Loss Can Worsen Tinnitus

When trying to sleep at night, do you find that you can’t get rid of the ringing in your ears? This is most likely the sound of Tinnitus, which, while not a significant concern for most people, can cause chronic stress and even interfere with sleep if symptoms persist. 


Tinnitus affects about 50 million people in the United States, or nearly 15% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). However, a lesser percentage, about 20 million people, suffer from debilitating chronic Tinnitus, while another 2 million suffer from Tinnitus so severe that it renders them incapacitated. Approximately 90% of people with hearing loss also have Tinnitus, making the two illnesses closely linked.


What is Tinnitus & How Does It Affect Us?

The sense of sound when there is no actual external noise is known as this situation. Tinnitus is most usually associated with ringing in the ears. However, it can appear in a variety of ways. Tinnitus can be described as a buzzing, hissing, whistling, swooshing, or clicking sound. Tinnitus patients have reported hearing music on a few unusual occasions. While doctors are unsure precisely what happens in our brain to cause these phantom noises, they believe it is linked to loud noise exposure and inner ear damage.


Tinnitus is frequently associated with hearing loss, and hearing loss manifests itself differently for different people. Tinnitus is commonly experienced as a high-pitched static sound if you lose high-frequency tones and pitches. 


Tinnitus is most commonly present in one ear if you have unilateral hearing loss (hearing loss in one ear). This is thought to be because Tinnitus is caused by damage to the inner ear’s small hair-like cells. These cells are in charge of transmitting audio information from the inner ear to the brain, and they are easily damaged by loud noises, resulting in irreversible hearing loss. It doesn’t happen entirely at once, and only some components of hearing are lost at first. Damage to the hair cells is thought to send misleading signals or feedback to the brain, perceived as tinnitus symptoms.


Studies on Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Studies from 2019 looked at “predictive coding.” The idea is based on the premise that our brain, without our knowledge, tends to generate predictions. Electrical firings in the auditory system that aren’t associated with natural sounds may usually be ignored by the brain. The study discovered that people with Tinnitus mistake the spontaneous firings for a sound, and their brain expects that they will continue, causing the mistake to repeat itself.


Have you ever walked away from a loud fireworks display, concert, or athletic event with a ringing in your ears? Most of the time, this sensation goes away the next day, but it can also indicate a hearing loss, even if we aren’t aware of it right away. A study of amateur rock musicians found that both ears experienced transient hearing loss and tinnitus following band rehearsal. When your auditory system begins to portray a lifetime of noise exposure, your Tinnitus and hearing loss may re-emerge years later.


It’s essential to recognize that loud noise can cause hearing loss, especially chronic hearing loss, and it’s something you should think about, regardless of your age. Young people are difficult to persuade to safeguard their hearing and avoid loud noises, but hearing loss is skewing younger with each passing year, so it makes sense to be careful. 


When you believe you are being exposed to loud noise, put on hearing protection. It can help you hear better right now while also protecting your hearing in the future.


Treating Tinnitus

If you have tinnitus, you have a substantial probability of simultaneously having hearing loss. While there is no treatment for hearing loss, hearing aids can not only help you hear better, but they can also help you relax and reduce the appearance of tinnitus. 


If you’re affected by tinnitus and hearing loss, make an appointment for a hearing test right now. We can assist you in determining the best treatment for your level of hearing loss, allowing you to reconnect with the people most important to you.