A lot of patients have tinnitus. We divide them into two groups, patients with tinnitus and tinnitus patients. Those two may sound the same, but there is a very big difference. Most patients fall in the first group. They are people who have ringing (or some noise) in the ear, but they are not bothered by it. Often they do not even mention it until we ask. The second group is quite different. They are totally consumed by the tinnitus. They can hardly think of anything else. Their sleep is often interrupted. This group needs help.
The first step in a tinnitus evaluation is to get a good measure of a person's hearing. In addition to the audiometric testing to determine if any hearing problems exist, the tinnitus evaluation may include otoacoustic emission studies which give detailed information regarding the functional status of the inner ear receptor cells. Beyond that we want to know about the pitch and volume of the ear noise. We also have the patient fill out a tinnitus questionnaire which gets to how the tinnitus bothers them. With this information in hand we can develop a treatment plan to help alleviate your tinnitus.