Whenever you come out of a loud concert or nightclub; whenever you work with heavy and noisy machinery; whenever you have one espresso too many or whenever you take an unexpected blow to the head, it’s common to experience tinnitus. It’s usually “heard” as a buzzing, ringing or humming sound in one or both ears. It can be accompanied by a temporary loss of balance or a feeling of pressure in the ears. It is also, in many cases, also connected to hearing loss.

This can be very distressing in some cases. Tinnitus tends not to persist for longer than 24 hours, and in most cases, hearing usually returns to normal. But for those who experience tinnitus more often, it can be very worrying. They may fear that their hearing loss could become permanent or that their tinnitus can cause a profound degradation of the hearing.

Here, we’ll look at the connection between hearing loss and tinnitus to allay any fears and address any misconceptions that you may have.

Tinnitus is related to hearing loss but doesn’t cause it

To understand the relationship between tinnitus and hearing loss, it’s essential to understand what hearing loss is and isn’t. Tinnitus is always a symptom of an underlying condition rather than a condition in and of itself. When something happens to the tiny and delicate hair cells in your inner ear, this sparks electrical signals that are misinterpreted by your brain as noise. This is the nature of subjective tinnitus and why only you can hear it.

Thus, tinnitus and hearing loss are related because they are often both symptoms of the same cause. As such, tinnitus does not cause hearing loss.

Treat the symptoms by treating the cause

Unless you address and treat the root cause, you may continue to experience both tinnitus and hearing loss. Over time your hearing may deteriorate, and your tinnitus may become more pronounced and persistent. Many causes could result in tinnitus or hearing loss including:

  • Genetic conditions like Meniere’s disease
  • Buildup of wax in the inner ear
  • Head trauma or neck injury
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Old age
  • High blood pressure

How your audiologist can help

Whatever the root cause of your tinnitus and hearing loss, your audiologist can help. They can carry out hearing tests and ear examinations which help you to identify the root cause and from there suggest a course of treatment. They can recommend the right form of hearing protection for you to prevent nerve damage caused by regular exposure to loud noise. They can provide you with a hearing instrument which can cause tinnitus to abate while improving your hearing. Some hearing aids even have built-in tinnitus-canceling technology.

If you experience tinnitus accompanied by hearing loss, don’t delay. Make an appointment with your local audiologist today!