Understanding Tinnitus & Sound Sensitivities
Frequently asked questions
Will Tinnitus Make My Hearing Worse?
Tinnitus is not correlated with having a hearing loss. However, as with hearing loss, tinnitus can be a symptom of a problem in any part of the ear or the auditory nerve pathways. Something as simple as wax accumulation the ear canal, or an ear infection, can make you aware of hearing various internal sounds. Tinnitus often also occurs with sensorineural hearing loss. Not hearing well isolates you from hearing external sounds which will increase hearing of your internal sound. This is also why you will be more aware of your tinnitus in a quiet environment where there are no external sounds to interfere with your tinnitus.
If you have tinnitus, it is important that you have your hearing tested by an audiologist, and that you are examined by a doctor or Ear Nose and Throat Specialist. The information they provide will ensure that the appropriate treatment can be recommended. Ear conditions which may contribute to hearing loss and tinnitus which involve the outer and middle ear can often be treated; however, hearing loss and tinnitus that is a result of inner ear damage are not usually improved through medicine or surgery. They can, however, be managed with hearing instruments or sound generators and counseling.
The gradual hearing loss that occurs as you age (presbycusis) is a common condition. An estimated one-quarter of Americans between the ages of 65 and 75 and around three-quarters of those older than 75 have some degree of hearing loss.
People of any age may experience hearing loss and/or tinnitus, but it is particularly common in people who have been exposed to high levels of noise in their jobs or hobbies. In particular, people working in industries such as manufacturing, manual labor, farming and certain trades can have noise damage to the inner ear, leading to hearing loss and tinnitus.