What is the actual connection between hearing loss and tinnitus? I often hear people tell me that my hearing is gone down because of tinnitus. I myself am guilty of saying the very same thing.
Join me as we explore this topic.We will talk about hearing loss in general. What are some of the causes of hearing loss. Then we will touch on the different types of hearing loss and about ways of preventing it. Finally,we get to find out if tinnitus really aggravates hearing loss.
Does this sound good to you? Great, let’s move on.
What is Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss or hearing impairment according to Wikipedia, “is the partial or total inability to hear.” Deafness, on the other hand is profound hearing loss.
Some facts about hearing loss
- More than 28million people in U.S are deaf or have hearing loss
- Older people are most affected,30 to 40% are aged 65 or older
- Children also develop hearing loss- thereby affecting language and social development.
- Every year about 1 of 5000 people develop sudden deafness
Types of Hearing loss
Basically there are two types of hearing loss, Conductive hearing loss and Sensorineural Hearing loss.
Conductive hearing loss – Any mechanical problem in the ear, be it the external ear canal or the middle ear that blocks the conduction of sounds is classified as a conductive hearing loss.
Examples of Conductive Hearing Loss
- Chronic Middle ear fluid– Infections like otitis media(middle ear infection) with fluid build-up.
- External ear obstruction – Can be caused by wax build-up, tumour or even pus from an infection.
- Eardrum becomes perforated.
Conductive hearing loss is common in children. Allergies for instance, blocks the Eustachian tube, which is responsible for draining the middle ear. As a result, fluid build up cause a loss in hearing.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss– This is hearing loss as a result of damage to the sensory structures( cilia or tiny hair cells) of the inner ear, the auditory nerve or the pathway of this nerve.
Examples of Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Drugs– A certain class of antibiotics like the aminoglycosides, can cause ototoxicity and hearing loss. Aspirin has also been known to cause hearing loss but is reversible once the drug is stopped.
- Genetic or Hereditary
- Tumors of the Brain
- Chidlhood infections e.g Measles, meningitis (I was told that I was a very sick child when I was born. I had severe infections and it is the probable cause for loosing the hearing completely and permanently in my right ear)
- Meniere’s Disease
- Loud Noise – Long term and repeated exposure to loud noise causes the hair cells in the inner ear to be destroyed. Very Simply put , the louder the noise, the less time it takes to suffer hearing loss. Exposure to loud noise may leave a person with high pitched ringing in the ears which we call tinnitus.
It is very common for someone to have a combination of the above two types of hearing loss.
How do we prevent hearing loss?
Preventing hearing loss is not as easy as ABC. We have got to look at what the actual cause for the loss is and work accordingly.
- For instance, If the hearing loss is as a result of aging, then, these types of hearing losses are not preventable.
- However, we can initiate steps like avoiding exposure to loud noises. Making sure earphone volume is reasonably low and exposure time is kept to as short as possible.
- Ear plugs protects one from exposure to occupational or firearms noise.
- Tympanostomy- is a process of inserting a tube into the middle ear of children or adults that helps with preventing fluid build-up.
- Reconstructive Surgery – may be needed if there is damage to the eardrum or the bones within the middle ear.
- Brain Tumours – can be surgically removed thereby preserving whatever hearing is still available in the ear concerned.
- Sometimes not much else can be done, other than to compensate for the hearing loss as far as possible. This involves the use of hearing aids. If the hearing loss is classified as more severe , then another option is that of a cochlea implant.
Tinnitus- a Quick Re-Cap
We know that tinnitus is NOT actually a disease but rather a symptom.
A symptom of WHAT??
I have discussed this in my article, ” What is Tinnitus,” but it is worthwhile mentioning it here again. Tinnitus may be a symptom of ear-related conditions.
These include, as a result of loud noise exposure, ear-infections, Meniere’s Disease.
Tinnitus may also be a symptom of non-related ear conditions.
These include conditions such as anemia, hypertension, under-active thyroid gland (Hypothyroidsim),arterioscleorisis, and blows or injuries to the head.
For the sake of this discussion, I would like to focus on tinnitus as a result of ear-related problems which accounts for about 75% of the cases.
Connection between Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
There are a few days when my hearing is so good, that I feel like I want to jump over the moon. It’s like a dream that is so surreal and it feels amazing. I can watch movies like before, engage in conversations without a struggle. I don’t even have to use my hearing aid!
Unfortunately, this is overshadowed by the more darker days that I get, where I struggle to hear. The tinnitus hits me with a vengeance and the roaring noise is even louder . On these dreaded days, I even get a feeling of fullness in the head and feel all blocked up.
So, do you see where I am coming from?
Very simply put, the main point to drive home here is that when my hearing is good, the tinnitus was down, and almost negligible and when my hearing was bad, the tinnitus was more pronounced.
Hearing loss aggravates my tinnitus. I have visited two E.N.T’s this year. The one is of the opinion that the pattern of hearing loss and tinnitus in my case is consistent with a disease called Meniere’s Disease whilst the other one thinks is it more of a viral infection.
Is there a root cause to your Tinnitus?
I always believe that there is a reason for everything. There is certainly a reason for your tinnitus. Perhaps looking at some of the causes(of hearing losses) above may give you an idea of the origin of your tinnitus. Or maybe it might not.
If you are able to determine the source, then it can make managing the tinnitus more easier.
Look, in my case I have to take specific medication. I have found that managing my stress levels by using the techniques and lifestyle modifications outlined previously, helps.
It is a long journey, but I can tell you that from where I had started to where I am today, the tinnitus has become more easier to deal with.
Hearing loss and tinnitus, certainly share a connection. Though your tinnitus is there and its persistent,getting to the root cause might give you a clearer picture of what is happening to you. This gives you an idea of what to do to treat it.
It will take time, but something can DEFINTELY BE DONE. Don’t let anyone tell you that there is nothing that you can do.
⇒It may be easier said than done but Don’t Let Tinnitus Change you. Read “Tinnitus Changes you,” for some positive upliftment and Hope.⇐
Help is here for you, and its here to stay. Don’t Despair.
Take Care and God Bless
My mom’s doctor recently told her she has tinnitus. I thought it was a hearing loss. But after reading your article may it is a bit of both.
My mom isn’t doing well so it is very difficult for her to explain what is going on. I have asked her if she hears ringing in her ears and her response is “I don’t know, I just don’t always hear things”.
It is very frustrating. Could it be that the tinnitus is making it seem like she has a hearing loss? From what I know about hearing loss it doesn’t just come and go, unless it is the case of a conductive hearing loss, like a child with fluid in the ear.
Thanks for all of the info!
Has your mum been for a hearing test. This will help to determine if there is any underlying hearing loss.
Certain infections are known to cause fluctuations in hearing.Some days the hearing may be good and somedays it may not.
It is also possible that on a good hearing day, the tinnitus is at its lowest.
So, the first step I think, is to let her have that test done.
Let me know how it goes.
All the best and hope all goes well.
This is one of the best and powerful blog. I have noticed very less people talk about Hearing Loss and Tinnitus, the connection issue. I have seen first webstie so far. Thanks for you writing this blog and giving correct information. All we lack these days is correct information, we have dozens of information on internet but not all of them are correct information. Thanks once again
Thanks for your awesome compliment, really appreciate it and it feels really good.
I felt the need to write this because this is what I am going through and experiencing as we speak.
Furthermore, I thought that there must be so many more people out there who are going through a similar situation.
This purpose of writing this article is teach them more and let them know that, ‘There is Always Hope.
I try to write information that is helpful and relevant.
Thanks once again for your kind words
As you have mentioned there are a lot of reasons on why one may start losing their hearing. For myself my hearing is still fine but my wife is now experiencing hearing loss, and she finds it hard to deal with certain situations now when around people are talking.
We take so much for granted and when the time comes that something starts to fail such as our hearing, then you begin to realize what you could have done differently.
In my wife’s case, the loud music at the nightclubs has taken its toll.
Great post on hearing loss and the tinnitus connection, you clarified some things for me.
It certainly is true that only once we start loosing that which we had , we start appreciating and valuing it more.
I am sorry to hear about your wife’s hearing going down.Not only is it taking its toll on your wife but I am sure that you are stressed and worried too.
These things generally get everyone involved , trust me I know, and life sometimes takes a different direction that you originally planned.
I think, let her have an audiology test, and see the extent of loss suffered.From there you will be able to gauge what steps to take next.
If there is anything you would like to know, please , please, let me know.
All the best to you and your wife, I will pray for you guys.
Fantastic article and very inspiring! My nan has had a perforated ear drum since a child and therefore has never been able to hear properly, however she only started wearing a hearing aid a few years ago… so a lack of hearing must have been something she simply got used to. When I was younger I never noticed any signs that she could not hear me properly! A very interesting read and really helps me (and I imagine lots of people) who have close relatives that suffer from loss of hearing. It helps to understand what the person is going through and therefore to be more patient and compassionate. It has certainly opened my eyes. Thank you.
Have a lovely weekend 🙂
I am sorry to hear about your Nan’s situation.I started wearing my aid for two years now as well.Let me tell you, that it is a challenge.Well that is my experience.
It is an adjustment, the sounds of music, people’s voice and other general things sounds different with a hearing aid.I sometimes fight with it, because I miss hearing the original sounds.I guess though, it’s something that I got to come to terms with.
A lot of people forget you have difficulty hearing and you can’t blame them. Making people understand what somebody with a hearing difficulty is going through makes a difference for easier communication but is not always easy
Glad that this article has helped you to see things through a different lens.
Give a shout if you want to know more.
This would explain why my parents have a hard time hearing things sometimes. My Dad is always saying he listened to rock n roll to much when he was growing up. He never says that his hairs in his ears have been destroyed.. actually his hairs are kinda disturbing to be frank with ya. It must be the other hairs that get destroyed that causes hearing loss. Well anyways, I enjoyed your article 🙂
Glad you enjoyed the article.
In your parents case, yes previous exposure to long term loud music can cause hearing loss and aging as well can be a factor.
Do they experience tinnitus symptoms?
Thanks forstopping by, glad to have you here.
Great website! I got tinnituse myself, and its the worst. Keep hearing the same squiik sound in my ear for days. But i have gotten really used to it, but in the beginning it made me freak out. Never ever turn your speakers to maximum, thats what i did lol
Thanks for the compliment.
It can be quite bothersome.
It’s good to know that you that you now have it under control.There is lots of information on this website that teaches you more on how to deal with tinnitus.So, please feel free to check it out.
Let me know if there is anything I can help with.
Don’t worry,I won’t be turning the speakers up anytime soon.Loud noise is a no-no for me.
Wow more than 28 million people in the US are deaf, that is a really huge number! Its practically the whole population in Malaysia, this is a very serious matter. I tend to get headaches very easily as my work puts me under a lot of pressure so I’m taking a lot of aspirin. Will this affect me hearing permanently if I continue on?
Thanks for that insight, I was not aware that the Malaysian population is 28million.Very interesting.
I think trynot to exceed more than 12tablets on a daily basis.If you are, then you are likely to get tinnitus as a side effect.Also watch out for any stomach pain, ulcers or heartburn.
Why don’t you try the Ibuprofen, 200mg twice a day and see what happens.
If you have been getting these headaches quite often, then I would recommend that you get it checked out by the doctor as soon as possible.It worth also be worthwhile to get your iron and blood pressure checked out.
This is important
Hearing is important, if not vital. Our hearing sense provides enormouse ammounts of infomation. Some obviouse and essential and some less noticable but combined it brings our worlds into prespectives.
You making Awareness about this is great.
Recognising signs and symptoms and being informed of this infomation is vital for everyone.
Absolutely agree with you on that.Hearingis fundamental for our communication with the world.
I have learned that it is a precious gift and once it diminishes or starts to go away, like what happened to me when I was a kid, then you start treasuring whatever you have left.
I want people to know its importance and start taking take of the ear.In future articles, I will be covering these topics as well.
Thank you very much for your contribution.
May you be in good health always.
My son has struggled with tinnitis from his early teens. Nothing seems to work at all. He is now trying certain supplements to see if they help. He had grommets inserted in his ears as a small child to drain fluid. Do you think he will end up with hearing loss eventually?
Thank you very much for your question.
From what I have experienced, tinnitus is the brains perception of noises, for instance ringing noises.These noises comes about as a symptom which may be due to various circumstances, like loud music, or viral infection or diseases.
I think that hearing loss may bring about various intensities if tinnitus depending from person to person.I don’t think that tinnitus causes hearing loss.
So my answer, is that he will not get any hearing loss from the tinnitus.
The step here, would be to monitor his hearing regularly by doing routine audiology tests.If there is a deterioration in the hearing, then this must be addressed as there is a trigger and you have to find out what that s.
Please let me know if this is clear enough.If you would like me to answer any other queries, please do not hesitate to ask.
Let me know how things go.
All the best to you and your family.
Kindest of regards
This is a fascinating article. I will admit that I have not heard of Tinnitus before, so I went back and read your What is Tinnitus article to familiarize myself. My father, who is 66, has been having severe hearing problems.
When I go to visit him, at times he can hear me okay but other times he really struggles. Hes always is asking “is that your phone” or something to that affect. He’s hearing noises that aren’t there. I never put it together until I read this article, but I’m fairly confident that is concurrent with when he is having a hard time hearing.
I am going to have him bring this to his doctors attention so he can discuss the possible link, or just his hearing issues in general. I really am fascinated by this. Thank you so much for sharing this information and well done on the well-written article!
Thank you for sharing.
I am glad that this article had you helped you.One of the other causes of Tinnitus is old age.I am not saying that this is what has caused your father’s hearing problem, but it can can very well be possible.
I think, getting it checked out is definitely a way to go.An audiology exam, can also help determine if there is an underlying hearing loss.So that would certainl be a consideration.
Please let me know how it goes.I would like to know the outcome.
Waiting to hear from you.
All of the best to you and your dad.
I suffer with tinnitus but it seems to have got worse as I’ve got older. In my young days, I was involved with a rock band and always stood by the speakers for maximum effect. I think this could have caused some damage for which I am now paying the price!
My tinnitus varies in volume but I have at least 3 different noises. A ringing like distant bells. (When our church bells ring on Sunday I can’t distinguish between them and my tinnitus). The second noise is a low rumble like a lorry engine ticking over in the distance. The third is like a soft buzzing noise which is hard to explain. I feel as though the tinnitus is more in my right ear than my left. I know it is deteriorating my hearing because my husband hears things that I can’t so I must be slowly getting more deaf. Even so, I thank you for going through this chapter and verse. It is very helpful to have the information at hand. Ches
Yes, the loud noise that you have been exposed to over the period of time, could very well be the cause for your tinnitus. It is also hard to say the extent of damage that its exposure has caused to your hearing levels.
I know what you mean when you say that you “are paying the price.” I too hear these different types of noises at any given point in time. Its drive me batty at times.
I can also relate to you, when you say that you think the hearing may be going down too, because my wife tells me the similar things.
Nevertheless, I would like to encourage you to push forward and not give up. I know that it is easier said than done, but please do not give up no matter what.
I am deaf in the right ear and having the tinnitus in the left ear is a challenge. So, if you need to chat or if there is anything else on your mind, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards and thanks for sharing
This is the best article.This article is so much informative as it gives the best ideas on how to prevent yourself from deaf and hearing problems.Thank you for giving us the best methods of preventing us from hearing loss.
Thank you for the best information that you share with us