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Tinnitus (cont.)

What kind of a doctor treats tinnitus?

The initial diagnosis of tinnitus may be made by a general practitioner or internist. You may be referred to an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat specialist, or ENT).

Depending on the underlying cause of the tinnitus you also may see other medical professionals to treat the condition such as a:

  • Dentist for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder (TMJ) or other dental problems
  • Cardiologist (heart specialist) for heart disease
  • Oncologist (cancer specialist) for a brain tumor or other cancer
  • Gynecologist for hormonal changes in women
  • Endocrinologist (specialist in disorders of the endocrine system) for thyroid conditions
  • Neurologist (specialist in the brain and nervous system) for neck or cervical disorders
  • Audiologist (specialist in auditory and balance systems) to help with therapy
  • Physical therapist to treat problems due to injury or strain
  • Psychologist to counsel you in dealing with your tinnitus

When should you seek medical care for tinnitus or ringing in the ears?

Most newly noticed tinnitus should be evaluated by a physician. Because tinnitus is usually a symptom of something else, if it begins suddenly, see your doctor. This is particularly important if the tinnitus is only heard on one side.

Although the majority of cases of tinnitus are not caused by any acute problems, certain symptoms need to be evaluated to determine whether or not a more serious medical condition is causing the symptoms.

  • Any time tinnitus or ringing in the ears comes on suddenly, particularly in one ear or is associated with hearing loss, seek an immediate evaluation. Sudden hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus, and there are medications that may help to restore that hearing. Also certain types of tumors can cause sudden hearing loss and tinnitus that warrant an evaluation.
  • Tinnitus that is pulsatile (in rhythm with your heartbeat) and comes on suddenly should also be checked relatively rapidly. In very rare instances, this sort of tinnitus can develop because of an aneurysm (a bulging of the wall of a blood vessel) near the ear or because of the sudden onset of very high blood pressure.
  • Any time tinnitus is noticed in association with changes in personality, difficulty speaking or walking, or with any other movement problem, you should be evaluated for the possibility of a stroke.
  • If you have constant ringing in the ears and it's affecting your daily life, see a doctor.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/25/2015

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Inner Ear, Tinnitus »

Tinnitus is the perception of sound in the head or the ears.

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