Tinnitus can be a bothersome problem that impacts on well-being and quality of life. As it isn’t a condition itself, but the result of an underlying problem, when to see an audiologist about tinnitus includes when you notice its symptoms and when it causes you difficulty. As tinnitus is a common problem for many, National Tinnitus Week takes place in February every year.
What tinnitus is and is not
Tinnitus is a common condition that often presents as a ringing sound. It affects around 10% of the adult population. People with tinnitus might also describe it as a buzzing, roaring, rushing or beating noise. Tinnitus can occur in one or both ears and be persistent or intermittent.
When to see an audiologist
In the UK, the NHS recommends you see a GP if you suspect you might have tinnitus. Your doctor will perform a thorough examination and will often refer you to an audiologist for a checkup, tests and a hearing assessment. It’s usually prudent to see both a medical practitioner and an audiologist.
If a GP does not refer you to an audiologist themselves, you can make an appointment with a hearing clinic yourself, as tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss.
Tinnitus is not a disease but it may be caused by infection or a condition. Tinnitus is an annoying problem for many people who experience it. It’s not a sign of mental problems. Often the cause of tinnitus can be easily treated.
What will an audiologist do to diagnose tinnitus?
An audiologist will perform a comprehensive, diagnostic audiology assessment. This will include a hearing test and a physical examination of the ear to identify any potential disorders.
The audiologist will aim to identify the cause of tinnitus. They will consider whether it is caused by a range of problems including damage to the auditory nerves or blockages from ear wax. A doctor might also seek to rule out head and neck tumours, uncontrolled high blood pressure and thickening or hardening of the arteries – all of which can cause tinnitus.
You might also be asked to have a tympanometry. This is a test to measure pressure inside the ears. Some patients might also undergo an MRI scan, a CT scan and/or ultrasound scans.
When to seek urgent help
You should seek urgent attention if you experience tinnitus and have suffered a head injury, it is accompanied by sudden hearing loss, or if you have symptoms of vertigo such as a loss of balance or a spinning sensation.
Also, seek urgent help if your tinnitus is causing you high levels of distress that is affecting your daily life. If the tinnitus appears to beat in time with your pulse, this could be a sign of pulsatile tinnitus and you should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.
Treatment and help
There are a range of treatment options for tinnitus. Often the reason for experiencing tinnitus symptoms is not a serious one. Hearing aids are one of the most effective options for many people with tinnitus. Other treatments include cognitive and behavioral therapies.
Now you know when to see an audiologist about tinnitus, don’t hesitate to book an appointment. Serving people in Edinburgh and West Lothian and providing hearing tests in Livingston and hearing aids in Livingston, Almond Hearing can help ease or eliminate the problem of tinnitus. Get in touch for further advice or to book an appointment.