Tinnitus is a perception of sound in the absence of an external source. It is commonly referred to as "ringing in the ears," but it can also sound like roaring, hissing, clicking or buzzing.
It can vary in intensity and in pitch and can be perceived in one or both ears. Tinnitus is not a disease in itself but a common symptom, and because it involves the perception of sound, it is commonly associated with the hearing system.
When conducting a tinnitus evaluation, we will take a thorough history and have you complete a questionnaire that helps to identify the severity of your tinnitus. We will conduct a diagnostic hearing evaluation, which may include Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs) and the assessment of your middle ear status. We will also do testing to determine the pitch and loudness of your tinnitus.
Once we evaluate the possible cause and severity of your tinnitus, we can address management. Generally, most patients will not need any medical treatment for their tinnitus. For patients who are greatly bothered by tinnitus, they may use some masking techniques such as listening to a fan or radio which would mask some of their tinnitus. If a hearing loss is identified, hearing aids are often recommended to help with hearing with the added benefit of masking the tinnitus.