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.
- 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)