If you have developed symptoms of tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, you may have several questions to ask an audiologist. If you’re preparing for the audiologist appointment, here are some pointers to help you get the information you need.

What is tinnitus?

Many of us are aware that tinnitus causes sounds to be heard even when there is no external noise, but how much do you really know about tinnitus? If you’ve experienced a ringing or buzzing sound in your ears or you’re finding it hard to sleep because there’s a hissing sound, it’s natural to want to know as much as possible, including what causes it and how it will impact you going forward. If you have questions like this, your audiologist will be able to provide answers. In many cases, there is no clear cause, and in cases where a cause can be identified, there are multiple factors that can contribute to the condition. This means that one patient may get totally different answers to another.

Will tinnitus affect my hearing?

Hearing loss can be extremely distressing. There’s often an assumption that tinnitus causes hearing loss or that hearing loss causes tinnitus. While in many cases, the two are linked; tinnitus doesn’t actually cause loss of hearing. It’s common for people to blame poor hearing on tinnitus when other factors are actually involved. Tinnitus can be caused by conditions that aren’t necessarily linked to the auditory system, such as injuries, but it can also be a sign of damage to the mechanisms that enable you to hear clearly. This is why it’s so important to seek expert advice if you do have persistent symptoms of tinnitus.

What kinds of treatment options are available?

There are various treatment options available for tinnitus. The first thing to determine is the cause, if this is possible. In some cases, treating issues such as a middle ear infection or a collection of wax, can help. Hearing aids are also a common treatment for tinnitus due to their sound-masking features. Alternative treatments include sound therapy, which involves listening to sounds to distract the brain from the noises experienced as a result of tinnitus. When you see the audiologist, they will talk you through the treatment options and you can ask as many questions as you like.

If you have started to experience tinnitus, it’s wise to seek advice before the situation gets worse. It is possible to manage tinnitus using a variety of techniques. If your hearing is affected, an audiologist can work with you to try and find a solution that improves your hearing and reduces tinnitus.