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Have Tinnitus? Know the Importance of Audiology Tinnitus Assessment

Wayne Whitehurst August 12, 2020

Tinnitus is the ability to hear a sound when there is actually no external noise present. It can be experienced in one or both ears.  Although many people refer to it as ringing in the ears, tinnitus can be perceptions of different sounds such as hissing, buzzing, clicking, and swooshing. How long the ringing is hear varies by person. 

Causes of Tinnitus

Tinnitus is a symptom of other underlying health conditions. Often, it is a symptom of damage to the auditory system (hearing loss). Although hearing loss often triggers tinnitus, there are different health disorders that can present it as a symptom. 

People with persistent tinnitus must have an Audiology Tinnitus assessment to manage and treat their condition. An audiologist can offer a more precise diagnosis for their tinnitus symptoms, determine the specific cause of their condition, and identity the right treatment option for patients. Depending on a person’s specific case, the audiologist may refer them to another specialist for further diagnosis and subsequent management. 

How Tinnitus can be Managed

Although there is no cure for tinnitus, there are well-established tools and management techniques that can minimise the perceived burden of the condition. These include hearing aids and sound therapy treatments. Those who have tinnitus must consult with an audiologist to better learn how to manage their condition and talk about evidence-based management options.

What Happens During a Tinnitus Assessment?

A comprehensive evaluation will be performed by an audiologist who specialises in the area of tinnitus. Often, the appointment lasts for a couple of hours. The evaluation begins with an in-depth interview, which will be followed by a comprehensive audiology evaluation that includes standard tone audiometry and ultra-high frequency audiometry. The patient will also be put to speech testing that includes speech reception thresholds, most comfortable listening levels (MCL), uncomfortable listening levels (UCL), word recognition scores, and acceptable noise levels (ANL). Also, otoacoustic emission testing is performed to assess the presence and function of outer cells in the cochlea. Experts carry out studies to match pitch and loudness and test for residual inhibition. 

After completing the evaluation the audiologist will review the findings with the patient and discuss the treatment and therapy options available to manage tinnitus. Most audiology clinics offer sound therapy options and counselling services including patient education on hearing loss or tinnitus and referrals to other specialists if necessary. 

Some treatments for tinnitus use different forms of external sounds or noise to alter the way a patient perceives or reacts to the condition. Such sounds serve as a tool to manage the symptoms and strain of tinnitus.