Tinnitus is often described as a ringing in the ears, but can also sound like hissing, buzzing, roaring, sizzling, clicking or other noise. Tinnitus can manifest as an acute symptom lasting just a few days or a chronic or recurring symptom lasting weeks, months or years.
Tinnitus is a symptom of a wide range of health conditions, and it can occasionally point to a more serious problem that needs professional medical attention. That is why trying to identify a cause is essential, even though it may not be possible.
During a tinnitus evaluation, an audiologist will typically administer:
- An in-depth review of your medical history
- A complete physical examination of your auditory system
- A pure tone audiometry test
- Speech reception and word recognition tests
- An otoacoustic emissions test
- Additional tests, studies and evaluations
If you are one of the five percent of Americans suffering from tinnitus that is “moderately to significantly annoying,” it is a great idea to visit an audiologist for a hearing evaluation.
What to Expect During an Evaluation
When evaluating a patient with tinnitus, we have several goals we hope to accomplish:
- Identify the underlying cause of your tinnitus symptoms
- Determine if your tinnitus is subjective or objective
- Evaluate how your tinnitus is affecting your ability to understand speech
Our team of audiologists are equipped with many tools and strategies to help patients with tinnitus.
Hearing Assessments for Tinnitus
Audiometric evaluations for tinnitus typically focus on high-frequency sounds between 2000 and 4000 Hz. An otoacoustic emissions test can provide a strong indicator for tinnitus as studies have found emissions can be diminished in those with tinnitus and hearing loss.
Questionnaires your provider may have you take include:
- Tinnitus functional index
- Tinnitus handicap inventory
- Tinnitus and hearing survey
Because tinnitus can be challenging to characterize, questionnaires can help to identify causes that a patient may not have considered. The Tinnitus Functional Index is designed to identify the impact of tinnitus on areas from sleep to the ability to relax. The Tinnitus Handicap Inventory can help determine the perceived impact tinnitus has on a patient’s daily life.
Tinnitus treatment programs are available. If we can’t identify a specific cause of your tinnitus, we will recommend other treatment options that can help you better manage and reduce your tinnitus symptoms.