Tinnitus is an unpleasant reality of life for as many as 50 million Americans. Tinnitus causes sufferers to hear noises that don’t have an outside cause.
The most common sound associated with tinnitus is a constant ringing in the ears. However, people with tinnitus might also hear hissing, sizzling, buzzing, rushing, rumbling or, more rarely, a pulsing sound.
Living with tinnitus can be distressing. The constant sound can lead to disturbed sleep, anxiety, and stress.
What Causes Tinnitus?
There is no single cause for tinnitus.
Some of the conditions that can cause tinnitus include damage to the inner ear (through exposure to loud noise, or due to hearing loss as we age), ear infections, glue ear, damage to the eardrum, Ménière’s disease and even a build-up of ear wax. In some, more rare, cases, tinnitus can be linked to cardiovascular conditions, medication side effects, acoustic neuroma, or head or neck injuries.
How Is Tinnitus Treated?
Just as there’s no one cause for tinnitus, there’s no definitive treatment, either. However, many people find they can get some relief using a combination of talking therapy, relaxation techniques, and deliberately using background noise to distract them from the tinnitus sounds. Using a combination of techniques can decrease the awareness of tinnitus in everyday life and make it much easier to live with.
Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
To understand the link between hearing loss and tinnitus, let’s talk for a minute about the hearing process.
We hear because sound travels into our ears, and then our auditory nerves take those signals to our brains. The brain’s job is to put all that information together and make sense of what we’re hearing.
Our ears don’t select what we hear – they take in everything! Our brains are tasked with filtering out unnecessary noises and background sounds, so we don’t get overwhelmed by them. In cases of hearing loss (or other changes in the hearing system, such as an infection), our brains don’t get the same information from our ears. As our brains try to get more information and fill in the gaps it can result in tinnitus.
How Can A Hearing Aid Help With Tinnitus?
If your tinnitus is directly related to hearing loss, simply restoring your hearing by using a hearing aid, can help lessen the symptoms.
However, some hearing aid manufacturers have taken things a step further and developed specific tinnitus-related therapies to help screen out the sound and make the condition more manageable.
What Else Should I Look For In A Hearing Aid?
A hearing aid is an investment in better hearing, and the ability to enjoy life more fully because of it. Hearing aids are quite costly, so it’s important to choose one that covers all your needs. We recommend looking for:
- A trial period, so you can return your aids for a no-questions-asked refund if they don’t work for you.
- A warranty so you know you’re covered if your aids break.
- Good pre and post-sales customer support so you can get your questions answered, and get help choosing the right devices if need be.
It’s also worth asking about:
- How to change or charge the batteries, and how often you’ll need to do that.
How to clean the hearing aids, as improper cleaning can reduce both their effectiveness and their lifespan.
Whether financing options are available to help spread out the cost.
How We Chose The Hearing Aids On This List
We chose hearing aids for this list based on:
- A good range of hearing aid options, to suit different needs.
- Good customer supports both pre and post-sales.
- Tinnitus-specific programs to help manage the condition.
Best Hearing Aids for People with Tinnitus
Here are three hearing aid manufacturers who are working to make tinnitus less distressing.
Signia has a range of hearing aids on offer from sleek modern behind the ear models to tiny in the ear models. They also offer some unique tinnitus therapies.
Tinnitus tools: Signia hearing aids offer gentle static background sounds and / or ocean wave sounds to help soothe you and distract from the tinnitus sounds. This is interesting in itself, but Signia also offers something called notch therapy. This is a silent way of treating tinnitus that, rather than distracting from the sound, works to help the brain ignore the sounds so that they fade further and further into the background.
Models that include tinnitus relief: Tinnitus therapy is included with most Signia models. These range from in the ear models to modern behind the ear models. A Signia sound specialist will be able to advise you on which model is best for your unique hearing and also to help you treat tinnitus.
Batteries: Both re-chargeable and traditional battery hearing aid styles are available from Signia.
Accessories: Signia has a great range of digital accessories to help you stream content directly to your hearing aids, make hands free calls, or enhance phone calls or music. You can also access apps to help control your hearing aid, and learn to use it.
Support: You can see a Signia hearing specialist at one of many nationwide hearing centers.
Customers love: Signia’s clear sound quality gets a lot of praise from online reviewers.
Customers aren’t so keen on: While most customers love the content streaming and wireless models, a handful of people do have trouble with sound consistency.
Ideal for: A hearing aid that’s perfectly suited to their situation.
Our verdict: Innovative and soothing tinnitus therapy and a wide range of quality hearing aids – well worth checking out.
Phonak places strong emphasis on a rich, clear sound that lets you go about your daily life naturally and easily. They also have their own approach to tinnitus management.
Tinnitus tools: Phonak hearing aids use a broadband sound generator to transmit sounds that blend with the tinnitus and push it into the background. Phonak also provides an app which streams background sounds direct to your hearing aids, and can also be used to stream music from your personal playlists, or as a sleep timer to help you fall asleep despite the tinnitus.
Models that include tinnitus relief: Phonak has two models that include tinnitus relief: Bolero V and Audéo V. Bolero V is a robust behind the ear hearing aid that adapts to even the most challenging sound situations, to facilitate natural hearing no matter where you are. Audéo V is an advanced receiver in canal model that effortlessly helps you hear speech from both sides so you can take part in life again.
Batteries: Rechargeable or traditional, depending on the exact model you pick.
Accessories: Phonak offers a range of digital accessories that can stream calls to your hearing aids, turn your hearing aids into your own personal headphones, clip-on microphones to enhance sound quality, and more.
Support: Phonak have hearing centers nationwide, and even offer a support app to help guide you through your first few weeks with your new hearing aids.
Customers love: Phonak’s ability to make speech sound natural, thus making conversations much easier and more fun.
Customers aren’t so keen on: Phonak is well-liked! However, a few people found it hard to get the hearing aids to keep their chosen sound profiles.
Ideal for: Seniors with more severe hearing loss – between Bolero V and Audéo V, Phonak provides tinnitus solutions for those with mild – profound hearing loss.
Our verdict: Modern behind the ear models that are easy to wear and provide relief from the background noise of tinnitus.
Widex creates hearing aids designed to give clear sound in every situation. They also have their own Zen therapy approach to tinnitus.
Tinnitus tools: Widex created Zen therapy to help manage tinnitus. Zen therapy is a combination of counseling and relaxation technique training from Widex hearing professionals, with Zen tones. Zen tones are random chime-like tones that reduce the stress caused by tinnitus.
Models that include tinnitus relief: Zen tones are available on all Widex models. These include Evoke, an intelligent hearing aid that adapts to each situation and learns from it; Unique which is robust enough to provide great hearing in a wide range of situations; and Beyond Fusion 2 which has excellent smartphone connectivity.
Batteries: Most models are both rechargeable and compatible with traditional hearing aid batteries.
Accessories: Widex has a range of accessories to promote clearer media streaming, music, TV, and phone calls.
Support: Widex have hearing centers nationwide where you can chat to a professional who will help you devise the best tinnitus management plan for you.
Customers love: Widex’s clear, beautiful sound. We saw plenty of people talking in positive terms about the clear, easy to hear sound they get from Widex.
Customers aren’t so keen on: Aside from the occasional problem with the Widex app, complaints about Widex seem to be few and far between.
Ideal for: Seniors who are looking for high quality and clear sound no matter what they’re doing.
Our verdict: Zen was obviously created with a lot of care for seniors with tinnitus – it’s worth talking to a Widex representative to see what it could do for you.
Tinnitus can be frustrating, but there are ways to manage it. If you suffer from hearing loss and are worried about tinnitus symptoms, why not book an appointment with one of these companies to see how their tinnitus-specific hearing aids can help you.