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How is tinnitus diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose tinnitus by performing an ear examination and ordering tests that can help to reveal the disorder's cause. First, a doctor will look into both ears for earwax build up and other abnormalities. Next, the doctor will probably ask you to describe your symptoms, even asking you to mimic the noise you hear. Doctors are trained to understand how certain causes may create certain noises, so this can help them correctly diagnose the problem. In addition, the doctor will probably move parts of your body to see if the noise changes and use a stethoscope to attempt to hear the noise. If these methods of diagnosis are uneventful, the doctor will order an MRI in order to look at images of the head in order to pinpoint the cause of your tinnitus.
A visit to an ENT doctor may be helpful in understanding tinnitus.  While it’s hard to eliminate tinnitus, it’s important for your doctor to rule out more serious problems that may cause the tinnitus.
Much like pain cannot be measured; tinnitus is a sound you hear that cannot be recorded by today's medical instruments. It’s difficult to diagnose tinnitus because there is no specific laboratory test that indicates it accurately. Your doctor will take a medical history and do a thorough physical examination. Then using x-rays, laboratory tests, and balancing tests, the diagnosis will be narrowed down. During this exam, your doctor may discover specific causes of tinnitus, such as hypertension or ear wax. If no cause is determined, you will work with your doctor in finding methods of treatment that work to manage the noise so you can relax and sleep.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.