How is Tinnitus Diagnosed?
Tinnitus, the condition characterized by a constant – and annoying – buzzing, hissing, clicking or whooshing of the ears, is a difficult and often debilitating issue to live with. According to the American Hearing-Language-Speech Association (ASHA), nearly 15 percent of Americans suffer from tinnitus.
Causes of tinnitus
Unlike many auditory or balance disorders, tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition. In fact, there are many issues that can cause tinnitus, including:
- Obstructions in the middle ear, such as earwax, head congestion or dirt/foreign objects
- Head or neck trauma
- Temporomandibular joint disorder
- Sinus pressure and barometric trauma
- Tramautic brain injury
- Ototoxic medication, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, some antibiotics, certain cancer medications, water pills and diuretics and quinine-based medications.
Because there are so many conditions that can cause tinnitus, diagnosing the malady can be difficult. However, according to ASHA, measuring and diagnosing it can be accomplished through a series of questions. When visiting an audiologist regarding tinnitus, he or she will likely ask you some of the following questions:
- Which ear is involved? The left, right or both?
- How can you best describe the sound?
- Is the ringing constant?
- Does the ringing occur more often at a certain time of day, such as in the morning or at night?
- Does the sound have a pitch? Is it high or low?
- How loud does the sound seem?
- Does the volume change over time?
- Are there conditions or actions that make the tinnitus worse, such as drinking caffeinated beverages, alcohol, smoking, taking medications or being exposed to certain noises?
- Is the tinnitus affecting your work, social life or relationships?
- How annoying or bothersome is the tinnitus?
Answering these questions will enable your audiologist to provide you with more information and better understanding about your tinnitus. With more information, you and your audiologist can create a roadmap for managing the issue.
Management options include:
- Hearing aids
- Sound therapies
- Behavioral therapies
- Drug therapies
- TMJ treatments
- Experimental treatments
Seek the advice of an audiologist
While tinnitus may not be considered a life-threatening condition, it’s essential to seek treatment as soon as possible to help improve your emotional wellbeing and your quality of life. Contact an audiologist in your area today and find out what kind of testing, diagnosis and treatment is available for your tinnitus. The audiologist will be able to help you find the relief for tinnitus you need – so you can start enjoying the sounds you want to hear again!