Tinnitus is derived from the Latin word “tinnere,” which means “a ringing” or “to ring.” Medically speaking, tinnitus is defined as an unwanted auditory perception of noise that is of internal origin and is rarely heard by others. For some individuals, tinnitus may be dismissable; but for others, tinnitus may be severe to the point of disrupting everyday life.
How common is tinnitus?
Tinnitus affects up to 10 percent of the general population in the United States. This condition has a roughly equal prevalence in men and women between 40 and 70 years old. However, tinnitus can also occur in children.
Classifications of Tinnitus
Tinnitus comes in different forms and has various classification proposals. For example, one such classification differentiates tinnitus into vibratory and non-vibratory manifestations. Another tinnitus classification determines tinnitus as objective or subjective.
Vibratory tinnitus is linked to the transmission of cochlear vibrations from adjacent organs or tissues.
This type of tinnitus is produced by biochemical changes in the nerve mechanism affecting hearing.
Subjective tinnitus, while more common, is heard or experienced only by the patient.
Objective tinnitus is heard when a stethoscope is placed over the neck and head structures near the patient’s ear.
Tinnitus evaluations start with a thorough checking of medical background. Below are the items that are checked in determining the likely cause of tinnitus:
- Characteristics (i.e., pitch, complexity)
- Link to Meniere’s disease, vertigo, aural fullness, hearing loss
- Exposure to ototoxic medications/factors
- Exacerbating/alleviating factors
- Other existing comorbidities
During a tinnitus evaluation, tinnitus signs and symptoms will be thoroughly discussed to ensure that underlying medical conditions can be ruled out.
Physical Examination for Tinnitus
An otologic examination can be performed to check the external canal and tympanic membrane. Signs of cerumen impaction, infection, or perforation will be checked during an otologic exam. The cranial nerves should also be checked to determine any presence of brain-stem damage or hearing loss. The neck, periauricular area, orbits, and mastoid may also be examined via auscultation. Tinnitus with venous origin can be suppressed by compressing the ipsilateral jugular vein.
Tinnitus Diagnostic Tests
All tinnitus patients must undergo an audiometric assessment because the subjective complaint usually correlates poorly with the acoustic properties.
Diagnostic testing for tinnitus should include tympanometry and speech discrimination testing. In addition, an audiogram can serve as a baseline for tinnitus evaluation, guiding medical professionals to the path where more advanced diagnostic testing is needed.
Other Audiologic Measurements for Tinnitus
These additional measurements below may inform whether tinnitus can be managed with masking and related sound therapy treatments.
- Pitch masking
- Loudness matching
- Minimum masking level
- Residual inhibition
Tinnitus Evaluations at Audiology and Speech Solutions
Here at Audiology and Speech Solutions, we take tinnitus seriously. We have our patients complete a tinnitus questionnaire to help identify tinnitus type and severity.
A diagnostic hearing evaluation will be performed, including an assessment of your middle ear and an Otoacoustic Emissions test. Since tinnitus is unique for each patient, we will perform tests to determine the specific pitch and loudness of your tinnitus.
What’s next after a tinnitus evaluation?
Once the evaluation is complete, and we have explored all the possible cause(s) and severity of tinnitus, we can proceed with tinnitus management.
For most patients, no medical treatment is needed. However, masking techniques may offer significant relief for patients who experience bothersome tinnitus that interferes with their daily lives.
If hearing loss is identified with tinnitus, hearing aids may be recommended to help treat the hearing loss while also adding a masking relief for tinnitus.
Tinnitus Evaluation in Rye NY
Audiology and Speech Solutions advocates for better living through improved hearing health. We are committed to helping our patients get the best, personalized hearing healthcare possible.
You don’t have to lose sleep over tinnitus. There are various ways to manage tinnitus and it starts with a thorough tinnitus evaluation to help get to the bottom of the problem. To know more about tinnitus evaluation and management, contact us today!