• Tinnitus Diagnosis and Tests

Diagnosis and Tests

The diagnosis of Tinnitus is mostly made by a medical history and a thorough physical examination. However, a series of other tests may also be advocated to rule out other diseases.

  • Physical examination and medical history
    • The severity, duration and frequency of the hearing problem.
    • History of any medications.
    • Previous ear-related troubles.
    • General examination.
  • Audiometry
    • A hearing test called audiometry checks the quality of hearing to detect sounds at different pitches and volumes.
  • Sounds heard can be described by the patient, so that the doctor can correlate with the conditions. Examples:
    • Clicking: Sharp clicking sounds can be caused by muscle contractions in and around your ear which may last from several seconds to a few minutes.
    • Rushing or humming: Sound fluctuations may occur on exercise or changing positions. This type of tinnitus is usually vascular (related to blood vessels) in origin.
    • Heartbeat: High blood pressure, an aneurysm or a tumor, and blockage of the ear canal or Eustachian tube can intensify the sound of the heartbeat in the ears (known as pulsatile tinnitus).
    • Low-pitched ringing: Low-pitched ringing in one ear can occur in Meniere's disease.
    • High-pitched ringing: Exposure to a very loud noise or a blow to the ear can cause a high-pitched ringing or buzzing that lasts a few hours. In cases when hearing loss is also present, tinnitus may be permanent. Long-term noise exposure, age-related hearing loss or medications can cause a continuous, high-pitched ringing in both ears.
    • Other sounds: Earwax, foreign bodies or hairs in the ear canal can rub against the eardrum, causing a variety of sounds
  • Tests to rule out other conditions
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Computerized tomography (CT)
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