What Is Worse in Your Opinion? Tinnitus or Hearing Loss?

Discussion in 'Dr. Stephen Nagler (MD)' started by Dubbyaman, Nov 14, 2019.

    1. Dubbyaman

      Dubbyaman Member Advocate

      Northern Indiana
      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Excessive loud noise
      Hi doc,

      What is worse in your opinion? Tinnitus or hearing loss?
    2. Dr. Nagler

      Dr. Nagler Member Clinician Benefactor

      Atlanta, Georgia USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      Hello @Dubbyaman. Thank you for your question. There really isn’t a good way to respond purely from a medical standpoint, but I’ll try to answer in terms of what makes most sense to me logically.

      First, I am going to assume that when you say “hearing loss,” you mean complete (or nearly complete) loss of hearing. I make this assumption because since we lose 0.5% of our hair cells for every year of our adult life by natural attrition (the medical term is “presbycusis’), everybody has at least some degree of hearing loss. Next, since tinnitus is itself a fairly common auditory phenomenon, I am going to assume that when you say “tinnitus,” you mean severe intrusive tinnitus. The next assumption is that the complete (or nearly complete) hearing loss cannot be corrected either with hearing aids or a cochlear implant (now or in the future) and that the tinnitus cannot be cured (now or in the future).

      I realize that I have just presented a lot of assumptions, but for the purposes of your question, it is the only way I could think of to level the playing field.

      With the above in mind, I cannot help but think of Helen Keller’s reference to blindness and deafness, when she said that blindness separates you from things while deafness separates you from people.

      And, speaking only for myself, I can think of nothing worse than being separated from people. So between severe intrusive tinnitus and uncorrectable complete (or nearly complete) loss of hearing, I would take the tinnitus any day of the week - even if there were no hope ever for a cure.

      But that’s just me. There really isn’t a “right” answer. Please believe me when I say that I do not for a moment minimize how profoundly severe intrusive tinnitus can affect one’s life - so I hope nobody will take offense at my response to your thought-provoking question.

      Best regards-

      Stephen M. Nagler, M.D.
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