Tinnitus and hearing aids
How hearing aids can help to relieve tinnitus and improve quality of life.
If you have hearing loss as well as tinnitus, your audiologist may recommend that you use a hearing aid.
Here we look at the difference this could make for you. Hearing aids may be effective when used alone or as part of a mix of therapies and self-care actions.
The link between hearing loss and tinnitus
There is a common link between hearing loss and tinnitus. Put simply, the absence of heard sound is replaced by perceived sound. This isn’t the same for everyone though and some people with normal hearing may also experience tinnitus.
Even if you have not realised that you have lost some hearing, it is worth getting this checked as the loss can be gradual and unnoticeable. Many people are surprised when they are told that they have a hearing loss.
It is quite common for people to blame their tinnitus rather than the hearing loss on the hearing difficulties they are having. Once a hearing loss has been found, the process of exploring solutions such as hearing aids, can start.
Evidence that hearing aids help
The aim of hearing aids is to correct any hearing loss with the expectation that this may help reduce your tinnitus. It has been found that hearing aids should be worn throughout the day to gain maximum benefit.
Bilateral hearing aids (one on each ear) have been shown to be more beneficial than using only one aid.
Since the introduction of digital hearing aids, there can be more accurate tailoring of hearing aids to an individual and this has brought about an increase in the beneficial effect of hearing aids for tinnitus.
Although some people feel that their hearing loss is acceptable for their age, any hearing loss that causes problems should be treated. Some audiology departments will fit a hearing aid even where there is only a slight hearing loss, usually with an open-fit hearing aid.
RNID has useful information about the different types of hearing aids.
Unlike the traditional ear mould aids, open-fit hearing aids use a very fine tube or a speaker placed in the ear canal to deliver sound. This allows amplification without blocking out external sounds or causing unpleasant occlusion effects which were a downside of ear mould aids.
Occlusion effects are when resonance is created in the blocked ear canal creating a “head in a barrel” sensation when speaking or chewing food.
Some hearing aids include a sound generator. In addition to amplifying sounds, they can play low level sounds in order to make the tinnitus sound less intrusive. However, the evidence into the effectiveness of this is not yet proven.
Research has been done with a small number of patients, but further work is required to single out the additional benefit from that given purely by amplification. The study concluded, “For most, amplification alone provided a reduction in tinnitus annoyance”.
Currently, digital hearing aids are available on the NHS. These NHS hearing aids provide a good sound quality. On-going rehabilitation, servicing of the hearing aid, and replacement batteries are all free on the NHS.
Your GP can refer you to a local audiology service for a hearing test and the fitting of a hearing aid. A few audiology services may accept a self-referral.
Hearing aids are also prescribed and sold by private hearing aid dispensers. There may be some benefit to buying hearing aids privately as this can give access to the latest technology with wireless communication accessories and miniaturisation. The costs of buying a private hearing aid can be high and there may be no guarantee of an improved response in comparison with an NHS aid. There may be on-going costs with servicing, maintenance and batteries.
Whichever approach you take, it is important that you make sure your aid is fitted correctly. This means verifying the amount of sound being delivered to your ear by the hearing aid, particularly if you have tinnitus. If you feel that your hearing aid settings aren’t right for you, it is important to go back to your hearing aid supplier to check settings and make adjustments.
If you do buy a hearing aid, remember to make sure it is covered by your insurance for loss or damage, both inside and outside your home.
All hearing aids do require regular maintenance to work properly. Many hearing aids can be affected by ear wax and moisture, though some are coated in a protective invisible waterproof membrane. Your provider will give you advice on how to look after your hearing aid.
If a hearing aid has not been fitted correctly and is either over amplifying or under amplifying, this can cause problems. A check with the audiologist can help to sort it out.
A change in sound quality can also be caused through a build-up of wax on (or in) the hearing aid, or from damage to it. If you think your hearing aid may have a fault, contact the service who supplied it to you.
Hearing aid moulds, and also the ageing process, may lead to the build-up of ear wax. As a hearing aid user, you should have your ears checked regularly for a build-up of wax and have any excess removed. This is often carried out by a practice nurse, although some audiologists do perform wax removal.
Items used to remove wax, such as cotton buds can cause lasting damage to the ear. Please read our page about safe earwax removal or see a professional such as your GP if you think you may have some wax.
It usually takes just a few weeks to adapt to using a hearing aid and adjust to your new levels of sound. Once this period of adjustment is over, wearing hearing aids becomes very natural. Many people become less aware of their tinnitus once their hearing loss is addressed and they become more aware of the sounds around them.
Once a hearing loss has been identified, you should have repeat hearing tests every three years.
Hearing aids – easy read
Tinnitus and hearing aids
Many people who have tinnitus also cannot hear very well.
Often it is hearing loss rather than your tinnitus that makes it difficult to hear.
Hearing aids will help you hear better, and this may also help your tinnitus.
You should wear your hearing aids all the time you are awake.
Types of hearing aid
Digital hearing aids are able to meet your individual hearing needs. They also fit you exactly.
Open-fit hearing aids use a very thin tube or speaker placed in the ear canal to deliver sound.
You still hear sounds around you, and you hear direct sounds much more loudly.
Combination hearing aids are a hearing aid which also makes sounds which can help your tinnitus.
How can you get a hearing aid?
You can get a digital hearing aid from the NHS. Your doctor will help you see a hearing specialist who will fit one for you.
The most important thing with choosing a hearing aid is that it is correctly fitted and that it helps you hear better, even if you have tinnitus.
You can buy hearing aids from a private hearing aid company. You will get a good one that is really small and uses the latest technology, but it might be expensive.
You will need to check you have insurance in case it gets lost or damaged.
Problems with hearing aids
You need to look after your hearing aid so that it keeps working well.
If your hearing aid gets damaged or has something wrong with it, contact the place or person it came from.
Wax and water in your ear must be cleaned out. Don’t try to get wax out yourself. A nurse will remove a build-up of wax for you.
Using a hearing aid for a long time
It takes a few weeks to get used to using your hearing aid and to hearing normal levels of sound again.
Many people stop noticing their tinnitus so much when they have a hearing aid, and this gets even better over time.
You should still have a hearing test every three years.
The internet has lots of information, but some of the information about hearing aids and tinnitus is not right or helpful.
Information from Tinnitus UK comes from experts, and you can rely on it to be right.
For more information about tinnitus, call the Tinnitus UK helpline on 0800 018 0527.
Tinnitus UK is the only national UK charity that just helps people with tinnitus.
We are an independent charity supporting hundreds of thousands of people who have tinnitus, helping to make their lives better.
As we get no government or NHS funding, the support we provide can only be offered with the help of donors and supporters who give us money.
If you would like to help us support others with tinnitus please donate online.
Other leaflets in Easy Read
- All about tinnitus
- Self help for tinnitus
- Tinnitus services
Tinnitus UK tries very hard to make sure our information is right, but it cannot tell you everything. You should always check with your doctor.
The booklet you can see below was written when we were called the British Tinnitus Association. You will see that name instead of Tinnitus UK, but all the other information is the same.
Tinnitus and hearing aids: What do I need to know?
For £2.50 you can buy this 60-minute webinar exploring the use of hearing aids for those with tinnitus, including the potential benefits from having a hearing aid fitted.Find out more
Tinnitus and hearing aids – easy read guide
You can view our Tinnitus and hearing aids – easy read guide below or by downloading the guide’s transcript.
Help and support
Our Tinnitus Support Team can answer your questions on any tinnitus related topics:
- Telephone: 0800 018 0527
- Web chat: – click on the icon
- Email: email@example.com
- Text/SMS: 07537 416841
We also offer a free tinnitus e-learning programme, Take on Tinnitus.
Authors: Peter Byrom and Magdalena Sereda
Published October 2022
To be reviewed by October 2025
Ear: by Kindel Media on Pexels.