Tinnitus Diagnosis

How is Tinnitus Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of tinnitus (ringing ears) is usually based on a person’s description. That’s because in 95% of all cases tinnitus is a subjective noise. A tinnitus diagnosis is commonly supported by an audiometric evaluation as it’s very often caused by hearing loss.

5 Tests to Diagnose Tinnitus

1. Speech Recognition Test measures how well a patient hears and his or her capability to repeat certain words.

2. Pure Tone Audiogram tests the patient’s hearing ability across different frequencies and volumes.

3. Tympanogram measures the functioning of the middle ear, particularly the mobility of the eardrum and the conduction bones.

4. Acoustic Reflex Test measures the contraction of the middle ear muscles in response to loud sounds.

5. Otoacoustic Emission Test measures the movement of the hair cells in the middle ear.

Diagnosing the patient’s perception of sound

Determining the gaps in a person’s hearing is important because this often corresponds to the type and quality of their tinnitus. When evaluating tinnitus cases, hearing professionals often work with additional tests. There are currently no objective tests for tinnitus. That’s because of its subjective nature. It is, however, possible to test the perception, pitch and volume of the tinnitus.

Possible tests include:

1. Tinnitus Sound Matching

Demonstrating common tinnitus sounds to patients can help them identify their specific perception. Multiple sounds can be layered or adjusted to create an exact audio recreation of the patient’s tinnitus. These recreations help customize the patient’s tinnitus management therapies.

2. Minimum Masking Level

By determining the volume at which an external noise covers the perception of the patient’s tinnitus, doctors measure the sound level. The result can be used in both tinnitus masking and sound therapies.

3. Loudness Discomfort Level

This test is important for patients who are extremely sensitive to noise. It determines the volume at which an external sound becomes uncomfortable or even painful.

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