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Tinnitus (cont.)

Which Types of Doctors and Other Health Care Professionals Treat 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 the issue

Is There a Test to Diagnose the Cause of the Problem?

  • The initial medical evaluation for tinnitus will include a complete health history and physical examination of the head and neck including the various nerves in the area.
  • A complete hearing test (audiogram) will also be performed. Depending on the type of tinnitus, either a special audiogram known as an auditory brainstem response (ABR) or a brain scan such as a computerized tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be required.
  • In some cases, your blood pressure and possibly some blood tests to evaluate thyroid gland function may be taken.
  • In very rare instances, a spinal tap may be performed to measure the fluid pressure in the skull and spinal cord.

How Is Tinnitus Treated?

If you having ringing in your ears, you should be evaluated by a doctor or another health care professional. Treatment of tinnitus depends upon the cause.

Examples of ways to treat the symptoms of the problem include:

  • Medications (including antidepressants and antianxiety drugs)
  • Decreasing emotional stress via stress management techniques
  • Biofeedback
  • Hearing aids
  • Counseling
  • Wearable or tabletop sound generators
  • Acoustic neural stimulation
  • Cochlear implants
  • Osteopathy
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic
  • Surgery (neurectomy or microvascular decompression)
  • Bite implants for patients with TMJ
  • Lifestyle changes

It is important to follow the doctor's directions in obtaining further evaluations and tests for your tinnitus. You may need an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) or an audiologist for further testing. It is important to follow up on these recommendations when they are made to confirm that your tinnitus is not caused by another illness.

Natural, Supplemental, or Home Remedies to Provide Symptom Relief

Most cases of tinnitus should be evaluated by an ear, nose, and throat doctor before home treatment begins to be sure that the tinnitus is not caused by another treatable problem.

Herbal home remedies (ginkgo biloba, melatonin), and the vitamin zinc are not recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology. Lipo-flavonoid is a supplement being marketed as a way to relieve tinnitus, but there is no current evidence it is effective for most cases of the condition; however, it may be helpful for symptoms of Meniere's disease. Check with your doctor or other health care professional before taking any herbal or over-the-counter (OTC) natural remedies.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/11/2017

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Inner Ear, Tinnitus »

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

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