Tinnitus Test – How to get tested and what to expect
If you’ve heard a ringing in the ears sensation, or a humming noise that doesn’t seem to be coming from anything, it may be beneficial to be tested for tinnitus.
While this condition may be scary and widely unknown, a tinnitus test is a reliable and easy way to better understand your symptoms. There are also numerous causes of tinnitus, so it’s important to not self-diagnose.
Where can you get a tinnitus test
The first step is to schedule an appointment with your doctor. You’ll need to tell them all of your possible tinnitus symptoms and they will ask questions regarding the sounds and noises you’ve been hearing as well as going over your medical history.
You doctor or hearing professional may perform a variety of different tests, including:
Because the head, neck and ears are largely connected, your doctor may examine these areas to make sure there isn’t an obvious cause for the tinnitus symptoms
Your doctor may also instruct you to move a certain way, such as clenching your jaw or moving your neck side to side, or up and down. When doing these motions, you’ll explain when you hear the sounds and if any particular movement makes them worse. If a motion makes it worse, such as moving your jaw or clenching your jaw, it may indicate that there is a TMJ disorder to do with the jaw muscles that is contributing to your tinnitus.
An important part of diagnosing tinnitus is participating in an audiological exam. This may be done with your usual doctor, or a hearing health professional. During the exam, you will sit in a soundproof room with earphones that will play certain sounds, one ear at a time. You will tell the practitioner running the test when you hear the sounds and they will compare your results to those of a healthy individual in your age range.
Although not much is known about tinnitus, there is a common link between hearing loss and tinnitus symptoms. If your tests indicate that you may have hearing loss, this will help better understand your tinnitus symptoms.
Your doctor may provide a self-assessment or questionnaire for you to fill out. These forms help your doctor understand how your symptoms have been impacting your life.
Another test that your doctor may perform is imaging tests, such as MRI scans or CT scans.
Tinnitus is sound heard with no external source, so others cannot heard the individual’s specific tinnitus sound. Your hearing expert may use tinnitus sound matching, which uses a series of noises and the patient indicates which sound is closest to their tinnitus sound.
They may also utilize minimum masking levels to see how loud the tinnitus sounds seem. This is done when sounds are played at increasing volumes until the individual finds that the noise conceals their tinnitus.
These two tests help reveal: what sounds are most similar to the individual’s tinnitus and at what volume does the patient hear them.
No two cases of tinnitus are the same, so individuals may experience different tests depending on their tinnitus cause, personal health conditions or medical history.
Preparing for your tinnitus test
While it can be unnerving attending your first appointment about tinnitus, it’s actually a fairly straightforward process.
When you meet with your doctor, you’ll likely discuss:
Your tinnitus symptoms and the type of sounds you hear (frequency, pitch, which ear, etc)
Your medical history, including any hearing loss or high blood pressure
All medications you take
Any changes to your health
Tinnitus treatment options
If your doctor diagnoses you with tinnitus, you may be referred to an ear, nose and throat doctor (otolaryngologist) and/or an hearing expert (audiologist). Between the three professionals, you will be provided a treatment plan.
After your diagnosis, there are a few different treatment options available. While there is currently no cure for tinnitus, many individuals manage their symptoms effectively with certain treatments:
Many cases of tinnitus also accompany hearing loss to some degree. If this is the case for you, your doctor or audiologist may recommended getting a hearing aid to help with tinnitus symptoms. You can also get tinnitus-specific hearing aids that connect to an app on your smartphone. These will quietly play background music to help mask the tinnitus. You can adjust what the sound is, whether it’s white noise or natural sounds like ocean waves.
Just like tinnitus-specific hearing aids, utilizing sound therapy has been found to help provide tinnitus relief. You can use sound generators, especially when sleeping, that play sounds and noises as background sound. This helps your brain divert its attention away from your tinnitus and you can work to “forget” the tinnitus.
Many know that stress and anxiety can make tinnitus much more noticeable. By practicing stress management techniques, you can work to minimize your tinnitus symptoms.
Although there isn’t enough research to connect acupuncture and tinnitus relief, many individuals comment that this type of treatment is helpful. It may also have to do with providing relaxation and stress relief that helps reduce symptoms as well.
Treating the underlying issues
By addressing the underlying medical reasons for tinnitus, the symptoms can reduce as well. These could be things like removing impacted ear wax in the individual, treating a blood vessel condition or changing your medication.
Quiet Mind is a blog dedicated to turning a critical eye to tinnitus treatments and supplements. So many don’t work and are overhyped, we’re here to shed some light on some of the scams and successful products that claim to stop the ringing.