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The Ultimate Tinnitus Treatment Guide
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The Ultimate Tinnitus Treatment Guide

4 Things You Must Know Before Meeting Your Tinnitus Specialist

Preparing to meet your tinnitus specialist

By Doug Morris

After being officially diagnosed with tinnitus, your doctor will refer you to a tinnitus specialist. Follow the guide below to know how to prepare for your examination.

Many cases of tinnitus have no known physical signs.

But your family doctor will give you a brief exam of your ears, head and neck to look for possible tinnitus causes.

Once you are diagnosed with tinnitus, your physician will refer you to either an EMT (Ear-Mouth-Throat specialist known as an otolaryngologist) or a hearing expert (known as an audiologist).

Before you head to your appointment, use this guide to prepare you for your exam to make sure you give as many details as possible to help you get the best treatment for your particular case.

If you forget key points, you might not get a clear plan to help you deal with your tinnitus.

1. What To Expect

Waiting Room

When you meet with your tinnitus specialist you will encounter a few steps in the process.

There are tests to be done.

Questions to answer.

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And a complete medical history to see if your tinnitus might be caused by another condition.

Treating tinnitus is different for everyone.

Your doctor will be trying to figure out what the underlying cause is.

If it’s because of another health issue, there are steps they will take to treat that condition with the hopes that it will resolve your tinnitus.

They might see that impacted earwax is causing your tinnitus.

In that case, they will remove it to ease your symptoms.

Many cases of tinnitus are related to high blood pressure and heart conditions.

Sometimes lowering your salt intake can help both your high blood pressure and in turn reduce the ringing you’re hearing in your ears.

There are also medications that are known to cause tinnitus.

2. Tests For Tinnitus

Medical Tests

You will be exposed to the following tests:

Movement

Your clinician will ask you to do various movements with your eyes, neck, jaw, arms and legs.

These are all to see if your tinnitus gets worse or changes with movement.

Sometimes, this can show how it might be linked to another medical problem.

Hearing

With this test, the specialist will put you in a sound-proof room and you’ll use headphones that make a sound in one ear at a time.

With this test, the doctor will rule out what sounds are normal for your age and what this will help them to figure out which type of tinnitus you are suffering from.

Diagnostic Imaging

Depending on what your suspected cause of tinnitus is, your specialist might request that you do a CT or MRI scan to get a clearer picture of what is causing your tinnitus.

3. Describe Your Tinnitus Sound

Headphone Sound

Another part of your exams will be describing what you hear.

Depending on what you describe, it will help the doctor figure out why you’re experiencing tinnitus.

And, more importantly, what they can suggest to help you treat it.

Common sounds that are described by tinnitus sufferers are:

Low-Pitch Ringing

When you hear low-pitch ringing (as opposed to a high-pitch sound), especially when it’s in one ear only, it’s often associated with Meniere’s disease.

This sound can get really loud just before a dizzy spell.

High-Pitch Ringing

If you’re exposed to a really loud noise or hit very hard near your ear, you might hear a high-pitch ringing or buzzing sound.

In most cases, it goes away on its own within a day.

But if you also have some hearing loss, that sound can be permanent.

There are a few reasons you might experience this, ranging from being around loud noises for a big part of your life, gradually losing your hearing because of age or sometimes even taking a medication that is known to cause tinnitus.

Heartbeat Rhythm

There can be a few causes for hearing a heartbeat in your ears.

High blood pressure, a tumor or aneurysm, and when your ear canal or inner ear is blocked it can make your heartbeat sound loud enough to hear.

Clicking

When the muscles move in and around your ear, it can sound like sharp clicking that can last from a few seconds to several minutes.

Rushing And Humming

When you hear this kind of sound, it’s usually associated with hearing your blood pressure or when your heart rate changes.

If that’s the case, you’ll most likely hear it more when you suddenly change positions, when you exercise, or when you stand up or lie down.

Other Sounds

When something is rubbing against your eardrum (such as earwax, hairs or other tiny foreign objects) it can cause a variety of odd sounds.

Before your appointment, write down when you are hearing your tinnitus, for how long, and what you were doing just before the sound started.

4. Questions To Answer

Answer Questions

Here are some common questions they will ask you.

  • How long have you been experiencing symptoms?
  • Does the tinnitus keep you from sleeping?
  • How loud is your tinnitus?
  • What does it sound like?
  • How intense is the sound?
  • Is it in one ear, or both? Does it go back and forth between each side?
  • Does it come and go or do you hear it continuously?
  • Do you find it hard to relax?
  • Does the tinnitus make it hard to concentrate on reading?
  • Do you have a hard time hearing what others are saying in noisy places?
  • Are you having a hard time hearing soft voices?
  • What seems to improve your symptoms?
  • What makes your symptoms worse?
  • Have you been exposed to loud noises? If so, for how long?

They will also ask you questions about your medical history.

Some important details to bring to their attention are:

  • Any health conditions you are dealing with
  • All the medications you are taking
  • A list of the daily vitamins and herbal remedies you are taking
  • How much of the following you consume: alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco

Keeping track of your tinnitus symptoms before you meet with your specialist will help you give them a more accurate picture of what you’re dealing with.

Conclusion

Living with tinnitus can be one of the most frustrating things you experience.

Many tinnitus sufferers deal with anxiety, have trouble sleeping and don’t know that certain foods can be triggers that make things worse.

From excess salt to too much caffeine and even eating too many sweets, many things could be aggravating the ringing in your ears.

The good news is keeping close track of your daily habits and what aggravates your tinnitus will help your clinician come up with a plan to bring your relief.

References

Esmaili, A. A., & Renton, J. (2018). A review of tinnitus. Australian journal of general practice, 47(4), 205–208. https://doi.org/10.31128/AJGP-12-17-4420

Hofmann, E., Behr, R., Neumann-Haefelin, T., & Schwager, K. (2013). Pulsatile tinnitus: imaging and differential diagnosis. Deutsches Arzteblatt international, 110(26), 451–458. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2013.0451

Zagólski O. (2006). Management of tinnitus in patients with presbycusis. The international tinnitus journal, 12(2), 175–178.

Crummer, R. W., & Hassan, G. A. (2004). Diagnostic approach to tinnitus. American family physician, 69(1), 120–126.

Baguley, D., McFerran, D., & Hall, D. (2013). Tinnitus. Lancet (London, England), 382(9904), 1600–1607. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60142-7

Han, B. I., Lee, H. W., Kim, T. Y., Lim, J. S., & Shin, K. S. (2009). Tinnitus: characteristics, causes, mechanisms, and treatments. Journal of clinical neurology (Seoul, Korea), 5(1), 11–19. https://doi.org/10.3988/jcn.2009.5.1.11

Shargorodsky, J., Curhan, G. C., & Farwell, W. R. (2010). Prevalence and characteristics of tinnitus among US adults. The American journal of medicine, 123(8), 711–718. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2010.02.015

Kim, H. J., Lee, H. J., An, S. Y., Sim, S., Park, B., Kim, S. W., Lee, J. S., Hong, S. K., & Choi, H. G. (2015). Analysis of the prevalence and associated risk factors of tinnitus in adults. PloS one, 10(5), e0127578. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127578

Buergers, R., Kleinjung, T., Behr, M., & Vielsmeier, V. (2014). Is there a link between tinnitus and temporomandibular disorders?. The Journal of prosthetic dentistry, 111(3), 222–227. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.prosdent.2013.10.001

Del Bo, L., & Ambrosetti, U. (2007). Hearing aids for the treatment of tinnitus. Progress in brain research, 166, 341–345. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-6123(07)66032-4

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/tinnitus/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20350162

Wright T. (2015). Menière’s disease. BMJ clinical evidence, 2015, 0505.

Barbieri, M. A., Cicala, G., Cutroneo, P. M., Mocciaro, E., Sottosanti, L., Freni, F., Galletti, F., Arcoraci, V., & Spina, E. (2019). Ototoxic Adverse Drug Reactions: A Disproportionality Analysis Using the Italian Spontaneous Reporting Database. Frontiers in pharmacology, 10, 1161. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2019.01161

Stephens D. (1999). Detrimental effects of alcohol on tinnitus. Clinical otolaryngology and allied sciences, 24(2), 114–116. https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2273.1999.00218.x

Figueiredo, R. R., Rates, M. J., Azevedo, A. A., Moreira, R. K., & Penido, N. (2014). Efeitos da redução no consumo de cafeína sobre a percepção do zumbido [Effects of the reduction of caffeine consumption on tinnitus perception]. Brazilian journal of otorhinolaryngology, 80(5), 416–421. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjorl.2014.05.033

Veile, A., Zimmermann, H., Lorenz, E., & Becher, H. (2018). Is smoking a risk factor for tinnitus? A systematic review, meta-analysis and estimation of the population attributable risk in Germany. BMJ open, 8(2), e016589. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-016589

About the author 

Doug Morris

Doug is a health researcher who has spent over 30 years as a publisher and consultant in the natural health industry. During his retirement, he spends upwards of 10 hours a day sifting through health journals and reading about new and exciting health breakthroughs - especially those regarding potential tinnitus cures. In his free time, Doug enjoys trying new restaurants and hiking with his Golden Retriever.

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