Tinnitus Evaluation and Management
Tinnitus is described as any sound generated by the brain or inner ear that the patient can hear. Tinnitus can sound like a ring, click, chirp, buzz, hiss, or frying noise. An extensive tinnitus evaluation can be performed by the audiologist to determine the severity of tinnitus perception and its impact on the individual. The appropriate therapy could include hearing aids, ear level tinnitus maskers, environmental maskers, and counseling.
Tinnitus is an abnormal perception of sound, heard internally by a patient. It could be perceived as ringing, chirping, crickets, buzzing, or humming. It may be intermittent, constant, or fluctuating. The severity can range from occasionally noticed to severe and debilitating. Tinnitus is a very common disorder but is not a disease. Tinnitus is a symptom of an underlying condition similar to a headache, dizziness, increase or decrease in temperature, or pain. There are many conditions or external components that cause tinnitus. Some examples include hearing loss, exposure to loud noises, ear wax build up or blockage of the ear canal, medications, and stress or depression. The treatment for tinnitus will depend on the condition that may have caused it, the severity, and accompanying issues such as hearing loss, as well as, the impact the tinnitus has on daily activities.
Depending on the cause of tinnitus and additional variables, there are several treatments available, which include medical options and alternative therapies. In order to find the root cause of tinnitus, the audiologist teamed with a physician will complete a full medical case history and examination. Once the medical evaluation is complete the audiologist will complete a full tinnitus evaluation. The outcome will help the audiologist determine the best treatment plan for the patient. A holistic approach is taken when evaluating tinnitus, its cause, and treatment options.
Generally, patients will not require any medical treatment for their tinnitus. For patients who are bothered by their tinnitus, treatment options may include hearing aids, tinnitus masking devices at ear level, environmental maskers, or relaxation therapy. In more severe cases of tinnitus perception, the patient may be referred for medical intervention by their physician, or psychologist. Severe perception of tinnitus can be life-changing. A tinnitus support group may also be suggested during the treatment process. After treatment has taken place, further maintenance is important. This may include management of associated health problems or ongoing therapies.