Hearing Loss, Tinnitus, and Aids

Hello all,

About 1 week ago I found this forum and it’s been so helpful for me. Thank you!

I’m a 62 year old with mild hearing loss as shown on my recent audiogram below taken at an ENT. Sometime around January of this year I developed tinnitus with ringing in my ears/head. I’ve been trying to live with it and use a tinnitus masker (white noise) on my PC or iPhone as much as I can. With the gradual hearing loss I have trouble understanding conversation in loud ambient noise situations and in social groups. I’m very reluctant to engage in conversation in situations like this as I know I won’t be able to clearly hear or distinguish the spoken words. Understanding TV dialog is also difficult at times.

So after several years of the gradual hearing loss and now tinnitus I’ve started looking into hearing aids. After seeing the prices of hearing aids at ENTs and specialty hearing aid offices my first choice is to buy one from Costco. However, Costco doesn’t sell one with a tinnitus masker. I’ve very briefly tried a Widex Unique Fusion RIC/RITE BTE with masker ($4K for the pair) in an specialty office and was very impressed. An ENT was kind enough to loan me a pair of Unitron BTE aids for 2 weeks with a little white noise turned on. I’m enjoying this demo but I think the noise and amplification need to be a little higher. Even with the noise on I still notice the ringing a little. The audiologist told me she likes to start with very little white noise.

Based on my audiogram and tinnitus what do you think would be a good model to try at Costco even without the tinnitus masker? I know I want an BTE aid with Bluetooth, so I’m thinking I could stream white noise from my iPhone if the aid by itself doesn’t help with the tinnitus. I have an appointment with Costco in about a week. It’s great that Costco has a 180 day trial. I was surprised that my nearest Costco was booked out about 2 weeks, which concerns me when adjustments or replacements are needed.

From this forum I also learned about Choice Hearing, Hearing Revolution, Connect Hearing, and Zip Hearing. I haven’t tried Sam’s Club yet. Any preferences based on the type of aid I’m looking for?

Thank you for your help and suggestions.

I believe the Kirkland Signature 6.0 is the only direct Bluetooth device that Costco sells. The other devices they sell can connect via Bluetooth, but with an intermediary device that you wear around the neck. The KS6 is made for iPhone. I would do a walk around the store with any devices they have on hand. Luckily it looks like your hearing loss is only mild so hopefully you have some options. The KS6 goes for $1800 a pair at my Costco.

With your very mild hearing loss you aren’t going to see much of a benefit from HA’s. I would look into just masking the tinnitus.

Yes you have a mild hearing loss,but you have to be vey careful. Your hearing loss is just about what mine was when I first found our I had a loss, I did not get hearing aid until almost 25 years later, by then my hearing was some what worse but the bad part was that I had lost a lot do my ability to understand words. And that is something I will never get back. Do not wait to long to get your hearing aids. Understanding what others are saying to you is way to important. Also I have had the ringing in my ears since I was about 27 and I am now 68 I learned to not notice it.and also how to use noise source devices to mask it at times. It never stops but I have learned to just not pay attention to it.

If I had your hearing loss I probably would not get hearing aids. I would check it every year and if it drops more you could re-evaluate then.

Just because the loss ‘isn’t that bad’ doesn’t mean that the individual isn’t experiencing a degree of disability from it.

In the OP’s case there’s sufficient impairment for them to feel as though they are missing out in noise and strain their hearing enough to invoke tinnitus.

In the words of my Audiology lecturer - Treat the Patient, NOT the loss.

That’s why I offered it mostly as “what I would do”. Not doing anything is an alternative.

Thank you for your replies. Tinnitus has led me to looking at hearing aids with maskers, but only because I was living with the hearing difficulty in loud background situations. My family can attest to my problems understanding speech in those environments. The way I’m looking at it now is that if I can improve my quality of life by improving my hearing, while at the same time masking my tinnitus, then it’s a win-win.

I just wish Costco carried models with tinnitus maskers. For those that stream white noise to their HA for tinnitus, do you find that to be inconvenient and wish you had a HA with the tinnitus masker? Of the upper end models Costco sells, do some of these HA’s work better than others for bluetooth streaming? If I go this route then I have to be sure BT streaming works great since it won’t be just for the side benefit of listening to music. I’m glad to learn the KS6 had direct BT streaming from an iPhone. Thanks.

Fair enough, I didn’t appreciate the subtlety of the distinction.

You may not need a tinnitus masker. I have tinnitus, but wearing my aids alone decreases it considerably. It only really bothers me (sometimes) when I do not wear my aids, like in the middle of the night, and aids with masking won’t help that anyway.

My aids have a tinnitus masker built in and I obviously use it. My tinnitus is definitely better with the hearing aids on. I notice the tinnitus much more when I remove the hearing aids before going to bed. That said, I don’t know if hearing aids without a tinnitus masker would also help as I’ve never tried those.