Tinnitus: An indicator of potential hearing loss

Tinnitus is a common condition affecting millions of people worldwide.* While it’s often misunderstood as a standalone issue, tinnitus can serve as a crucial indicator of potential hearing loss. Read on to learn about what tinnitus is, why it is closely linked to hearing loss, and explore the treatments available.

What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a common symptom of age-related hearing loss, repeated exposure to loud noise, an ear infection, or earwax build-up. It can often be described as a “ringing” or “buzzing” in the ears. These are sounds that come from inside your body, rather than an outside source. For some people, tinnitus may come and go, or it may only be a minor irritation. However, in some cases, it can have a serious impact on everyday life, which may lead to difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or connecting with the world around you.

How are tinnitus and hearing loss linked?

The link between tinnitus and hearing loss is important for understanding how tinnitus is a potential indicator of hearing loss. While it’s natural to think that tinnitus can cause hearing loss, the opposite is true. Tinnitus is a symptom of hearing loss. In fact, about 90% of people with tinnitus have a hearing loss.**

Hearing loss, whether gradual or sudden, can result from factors such as exposure to loud noises, aging, or certain medical conditions. When the auditory system is compromised, it is believed that the brain compensates for the lack of sound input by generating phantom noises, such as ringing, buzzing, or humming in the ears. Therefore, tinnitus can be viewed as a warning sign, encouraging you to pay attention to your hearing health.


What can I do if I am experiencing tinnitus?

If you are experiencing tinnitus and these sounds are affecting your daily life, it’s important to see your doctor or an audiologist as soon as possible. A doctor will be able to examine whether the tinnitus is caused by a condition that is easier to treat, such as an ear infection, or earwax build-up, and if necessary, they will be able to refer you to a hearing care specialist for further tests.

Taking our free online hearing test is also an option, as this can give you an indication of whether you should visit a hearing care specialist for a more comprehensive hearing loss assessment.

Addressing tinnitus often involves a comprehensive approach that considers both the symptoms and the underlying causes. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, various treatment options can help manage and mitigate the impact of tinnitus.


Here is an overview of the type of treatment options available.

Hearing aids
In many cases, a hearing care specialist will recommend that you wear hearing aids, such as a Philips HearLink, which can help you relieve your tinnitus symptoms by giving you more of the sounds of the world around you.

Sound therapy
Sound therapy involves introducing external sounds, such as white noise or nature sounds, to mask or distract from the tinnitus noise. This approach can be particularly beneficial in quiet environments, making the phantom noise less noticeable.

Counseling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Tinnitus can take a toll on your mental well-being, leading to stress and anxiety. Counseling and CBT techniques can help you manage the emotional impact of tinnitus, breaking the negative cycle of stress and potentially slowing down the worsening of the tinnitus.

Tinnitus should be recognized as a potential indicator of underlying hearing issues. By understanding the link between tinnitus and hearing loss, you can take proactive steps towards getting treatment and enhancing your quality of life. To seek help from a hearing care specialist, visit our online Hearing Center Locator tool to find a hearing center near you.

* https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2795168

** https://hearinghealthfoundation.org/hearing-loss-tinnitus-statistics

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