Tinnitus and Cochlear Implants

O'Grady's Hearing Services


Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing or buzzing in one, or both, of the ears.  It may be soft or loud, high pitched or low pitched.   Tinnitus is condition that can result from a wide range of underlying causes.

The most common cause is noise-induced hearing loss which occurs when the ears are exposed to loud noise, usually over a continuous, long-term period. Other causes include neurological damage or following neurosurgery, ear infections, certain medications and stress. Foreign objects in the ear, sinus problems, and wax build-up can also cause tinnitus. Tinnitus can be a long or short- term problem. Many people experience tinnitus after exposure to a gunshot or a after a loud concert. This type of tinnitus is usually short lived; resolving in a matter of hours.

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Tinnitus Explained

Tinnitus can occur on its own, or in association with hearing loss. Exposure to loud noise results in the damage to the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, which is one of the most common causes of tinnitus.

Unfortunately, tinnitus doesn’t have a cure yet, but treatments that help many people cope better with the condition are available. Visit or phone O’Grady’s today to discuss your tinnitus and the treatment options available.

Hearing aids often are helpful for people who have hearing loss along with tinnitus. Using a hearing aid adjusted to carefully control outside sound levels may make it easier for you to hear. The better you hear, the less you may notice your tinnitus. Tinnitus masking programmes are now available on most hearing aids.

Additionally, anything you can do to limit your exposure to loud noise – by moving away from the sound, turning down the volume, or wearing protection equipment – will help prevent tinnitus or stop it from getting worse.

Cochlear Implants

What is a Cochlear Implant?

A cochlear implant is a small, complex, electronic device that can help to provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing. Both hearing aids and cochlear implants work best for individuals diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, meaning they have damage to the hair cells in the inner ear and/or the nerve pathways from the inner ear to the brain.

How does it work?

The implant consists of an external portion that sits behind the ear and an internal portion that is surgically placed under the skin- the implant. Cochlear implants bypass damaged portions of the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Signals generated by the implant are sent via the auditory nerve to the brain, which recognizes the signals as sound.

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Do they improve understanding of speech?

Hearing through a cochlear implant is different from normal hearing and takes time to learn or relearn. However, it can help many people to recognize warning signals, recognise sounds in the environment, and understand speech in person or over the telephone.

While there are no guarantees a cochlear implant will improve your ability to hear and understand speech, adult hearing often benefits immediately and continue to improve in the first three months after the surgery. Children who are born deaf or with a profound hearing loss can be fitted with cochlear implants. Children 12 months of age or older with profound hearing loss in both ears are usually excellent candidates. The National Cochlear Implant Centre for Ireland is based in Beaumont Hospital Dublin. For more information on cochlear implants, visit their website: http://beaumont.ie/cochlearimplant

Costs and risks of cochlear implants:

The disadvantages of cochlear implants include the costs and risks associated with surgery. To help manage the cost of this valuable treatment for hearing loss, in 2014, then Minister for Health, James Reilly announced that bi-lateral cochlear implants would be made available in the HSE Service Plan 2014.

The Government introduced a new bilateral cochlear implant service from 2014, to benefit children awaiting a second implant and simultaneous implantation for those who are born profoundly deaf. Minister Reilly’s health service plan for 2014 listed €3.22 million to develop services for bilateral cochlear implants in Ireland.

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