Is There Always a Connection Between Tinnitus and Hearing Loss?

Tinnitus is an irritating problem with a multitude of causes and very few remedies. It is a sound that the brain processes but the sound has no outside cause. The sound can manifest in many ways, as ringing, buzzing, humming, whistling, hissing, and more. People can experience the sound in one ear or in both. It might happen constantly or occasionally. Fortunately, there are hearing aids that offer tinnitus treatment solutions

The problem with tinnitus is that it exists. Most people will experience it at some point in their lives. It can be triggered by loud sounds and some medication. It could also be a symptom of other health issues, like Meniere’s disease. But is it related to hearing loss? Sometimes. 

What are the connections between tinnitus and hearing loss?

Phantom sounds covering up hearing loss

Tinnitus is a phantom sound. This means that no one, other than you, can hear the sound that your brain is perceiving. And if you are experiencing chronic tinnitus for six months or more, then your tinnitus could be a signal that you have hearing loss. The phantom noise could be your auditory system working hard to send signals to your brain. 

When you know how sound works, tinnitus makes sense. Sound enters your ear and eventually reaches your cochlea, where hair cells vibrate and send messages to your brain. Tinnitus happens when the hair cells send messages to the brain, but without any external stimulation. In a nutshell, there is perception, but without sensation. So, if your hair cells are compensating for hearing loss, they could manifest the compensation as tinnitus. 

Understanding the physical cause of tinnitus

When you understand the physical cause of tinnitus, you understand how tinnitus could happen. In some cases, tinnitus is caused by physical damage to the hair cells that receive sound waves in the cochlea. The physical damage could be caused by being exposed to loud sounds at concerts, on the battlefield, or at work, and the tinnitus could be temporary. Or, the damage could be permanent, which would indicate a permanent hearing loss. 

Early symptom of hearing loss

Tinnitus could be a symptom of hearing loss. As permanent hearing loss has several causes and symptoms, one is tinnitus. As soon as tinnitus gets in the way of you living your life, you should see your audiologist who can help you determine the cause. If you have an early symptom of hearing loss, your audiologist can help you determine the best to manage it. 

Tinnitus does not happen to everyone with hearing loss

According to recent research, tinnitus is not a symptom of everyone who suffers from diagnosed hearing loss. Because the symptom of tinnitus is not constant, researchers found that tinnitus is not always connected with hearing loss. Researchers were unclear as to why some people with hearing loss experience tinnitus while others do not. They wondered if differences in inner ear damage affected whether or not tinnitus was experienced. 

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