Tinnitus Evaluations

You may have heard there is no cure for tinnitus. However, there is hope. Audiologists are specially trained to provide treatment options that can ease the perceived burden of tinnitus, allowing patients to live more comfortable, productive lives!

The word tinnitus is of Latin origin, meaning "to ring or tinkle." Tinnitus has two different pronunciations, both of which are correct and interchangeable:

  • ti-NIGHT-us :: typically used by patients and laypeople

  • TINN-a-tus :: typically used by clinicians and researchers

What can I expect from a tinnitus evaluation?

 

Tinnitus is mostly a subjective disorder, however, there are methods of clinically measuring tinnitus qualities and personal impacts on the patient.


After a full audiometric evaluation, the following areas may be measured:

Tinnitus sound matching: The presentation of common tinnitus frequencies back to patients, to help them identify their specific perception of tinnitus. The Audiologist may adjust the pitch to create an exact audio recreation of the the tinnitus.  Sound matching provides an important baseline for subsequent tinnitus management therapies, which are often customized for each patient.

Minimum masking level: The volume at which an external narrowband noise masks (or covers) the perception of tinnitus. Determining the minimum masking level provides an approximate measure of how loud a patient perceives his/her tinnitus and can be used in subsequent tinnitus masking and sound therapies.

Loudness discomfort level: The volume at which external sound becomes uncomfortable or painful for a tinnitus patient. This measurement informs the feasibility of sound therapy, masking, and hearing aids as potential tinnitus treatments. Determining loudness discomfort levels is particularly important for patients with hyperacusis, an extreme sensitivity to noise.

Clinicians and researchers have developed inventory tests to measure the subjective burden a patient experiences because of tinnitus. There are several varieties of these tests, but they all operate by quantifying the patient’s personal reaction to tinnitus. We frequently use:

  • Tinnitus Handicap Inventory
    The Tinnitus Handicap Inventory was developed as a brief, easily administered way to evaluate the disabling consequences of tinnitus. It has potential for use in an initial evaluation of handicap or later as well as a way to measure treatment outcome.

*As defined by the American Tinnitus Association

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