A diagnosis of tinnitus is based on the symptoms your audiologist observes. However, the audiologist must first determine if the tinnitus is caused by another underlying condition to treat the symptoms. To do this, you will have to provide your audiologist with a comprehensive medical history. You may have to undergo some tests and treatments, some of which will be discussed in this article.
Tinnitus is treated differently depending on its underlying cause. Once the underlying cause is identified, your audiologist can reduce the symptoms. There is no definitive cure for tinnitus, but there are several ways to make it more bearable.
Your audiologist might recommend using an electronic device to suppress the noise. Two devices work well in this regard; sound machines and hearing aids with masking features. A white sound machine can produce sounds similar to static and drown out the recurring sounds, serving as an effective treatment for tinnitus. Hearing aids such as in the canal (ITC), behind the ear (BTE) and in the ear (ITE) that have masking features work very well, too, as they produce a constant white noise at low levels that suppress the tinnitus sounds.
Tinnitus retraining therapy (TRT)
This is a treatment administered by an audiologist, and it combines sound masking and professional counseling. During a session, you will be expected to wear a device that suppresses the tinnitus sounds while being counseled by a professional. Tinnitus retraining therapy is known to reduce stress related to tinnitus symptoms and help to improve your quality of life.
Certain aspects of your lifestyle may contribute to worsening your tinnitus symptoms. To address the situation, you will need to modify some parts of your lifestyle. Some of these modifications include quitting smoking and drinking. If you are on any medication, it will be assessed and if it contributes to your symptoms, you will need to change it or make other alterations. Another thing your audiologist may consider is earwax removal, as a blockage can increase tinnitus symptoms.
Expect these tests before receiving treatments
Before you receive any treatment, it’s highly likely that you’ll undergo one or more tests so as to accurately determine the best course of treatment to follow. Some of these tests are listed here:
This is a hearing test, and you will have to sit in a soundproof room with a headset over your ears that will be transmitting particular sounds into one ear at a time. You will be required to give a signal when you can hear the sound. Then your audiologist will match your results to the expected results of your age.
An audiologist will conduct a motion exam to know how much movement affects your tinnitus. This involves moving your eyes, clenching your jaw or moving your neck. You will also be asked to move your arms and legs. If your tinnitus gets worse or better, it will enable the audiologist to point out if there is an underlying factor that needs to be addressed.
Depending on what your audiologist wants to find out, you may need to undergo imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans. You may be required to undergo lab tests to check for vitamin deficiency, anemia or thyroid issues in some cases.
When the audiologist is examining you, try to describe the kind of sounds that keep recurring accurately. The type of tinnitus sound you hear can help identify the issue and inform the steps to take to rectify the situation.
Clicking sounds may indicate that the muscle contractions in your ear area may be causing your tinnitus. Pulsing sounds and rushing or humming sounds are a product of pressure from blood vessels and may indicate high blood pressure. They usually occur when you change your posture standing up or lying down.
Low pitch ringing may indicate the ear canal’s blockage, stiff ear bones or Meniere’s disease. A high pitch sound is the most common and is usually due to exposure to loud noise, medications or hearing loss.