If you have ever experienced a high-pitched ringing sound in your ears that was not caused by a sound in your physical environment, then you have experienced tinnitus. A relatively common occurrence, tinnitus occurs in about 70% of people with hearing loss, but those with normal hearing can also experience it, especially for a short period of time following exposure to a very loud noise.
Hyperacusis often co-occurs with tinnitus, though it can also arise on its own. Hyperacusis causes ordinary sounds to become unpleasantly or even painfully loud. If you experience tinnitus, hyperacusis, or a combination of the two, you will need to schedule an audiologic evaluation to determine the cause and work toward a solution.
What to Expect During a Tinnitus Evaluation
During your tinnitus evaluation, your audiologist will provide a variety of different tests to determine the impact of your tinnitus. Your evaluation might consist of:
- Self-directed questionnaires
- Comprehensive hearing tests
- Tinnitus pitch and loudness matching
- Obtaining minimum masking levels
After the testing methods have been chosen and completed, your results will be compiled into a comprehensive report that will allow us to determine the best course of action. There are a number of possible coping strategies and treatment options available for tinnitus, and your doctor will work with you to determine which will be the best for you. Possible treatment options might include:
- Hearing aid. By amplifying other sounds in your environment, a hearing aid can make the impacts of your tinnitus less noticeable.
- Wearable device. If amplification will not work well for you, there are a variety of wearable devices that create sounds which effectively mask tinnitus and make it easier to ignore.
- Sound device. If you prefer not to invest in wearable technology, there are a variety of sound devices which can mask tinnitus with soothing environmental sounds like rain or the ocean.
Your doctor will work with you to develop a customized and comprehensive strategy that will allow you to live comfortably with your tinnitus.