Some Ways Tinnitus Is Evaluated
The assessment of tinnitus starts when a person pays a visit to an ear doctor or an otolaryngologist. Tinnitus can be evaluated in a number of ways. A person can undergo a series of special tests, physical examination and the doctor could also look into the patient’s medical history to determine the origin of the condition. During the evaluation, the patient has to indicate the severity and the occurrence of the tinnitus in order for the physician to identify which type it falls into. Oftentimes, a patient will be asked to undergo an audiogram or a hearing test. In more severe cases, the doctor may recommend an auditory brain stem response, CT scan or an MRI scan so as to determine whether or not tinnitus is a symptom of a tumor growth.
Audiogram. Commonly termed as a hearing test, an audiogram examines the person’s ability to hear and recognize different sound and speech patterns. The loss of hearing abilities is oftentimes associated with tinnitus, thus an audiogram can be helpful in diagnosing the condition.
Evoked Response Audiometry. Tinnitus can occur in both ears or in one ear alone. This type of test is commonly used to evaluate one-ear tinnitus wherein a painless computerized inner ear examination is being performed.
X-rays. Tinnitus is sometimes caused by ear blockage or because an abnormal vessel growth is developing within the regions of the middle and inner ear. Through an X-ray test, the physician may be able to identify that the tinnitus is caused by physical or structural growth in these areas of a person’s head. Other related examinations that might be recommended would be CT scan or MRI scans in more severe cases.
Pitch Match. A person with tinnitus fails to recognize the different levels of frequency and the pitch that corresponds to it. During a pitch match for tinnitus, the patient will be exposed to a variety of external noises and will be asked to identify which type of noise has the similar pitch to the buzzing or ringing sound that he hears in his inner ear. According to studies, the highest frequency used in a pitch match ranks at 4,000 Hz and majority of patients with tinnitus often recognize a match in the pitch when the frequency reaches 3,500 Hz. At this level, the tone is identified to screeching and unpleasant to the ears.
Loudness Match. Similar to the concept of the pitch match, the loudness match is used in order to identify the level of decibel that a person with tinnitus hears. For people with tinnitus, the inner sounds that they hear are more associated with a whisper, with a loudness of four to seven dB. During the loudness match, tinnitus is evaluated through the use of a loudness scale, with zero being the “no tinnitus” zone and ten as the highest possible sound of tinnitus. Most patients often note that they can match the loudness within the scale of six or higher.
Tinnitus is an auditory system condition that can be brought about by a variety of causes. Although it is a minor condition, the intermittent buzzing in the ears can still affect a person’s lifestyle, as well as his cognitive and emotional well-being. Tinnitus can also be an underlying symptom of a more serious health complication, thus it is essential that the main cause is detected in order for the physician to provide the appropriate care to reduce or eliminate the occurrence of tinnitus.