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Does Tinnitus Affect a Hearing Test?
Tinnitus is the experience of sounds or noises that have no specific external source. It can be described as hearing sounds that aren’t really there, whether you can hear them in your ears or in your own head. Tinnitus can be tricky to treat and even more complicated to live with. However, it is often a sign of, or more likely to appear, in people with hearing loss. As such, a hearing test is usually recommended for people experiencing tinnitus. But given that tinnitus affects your hearing, could it also affect your hearing test?
Can tinnitus get in the way of your hearing test results and can it lead to inaccurate results? Undiagnosed hearing loss can have serious impacts on your quality of life, so answering this question is important.
How Tinnitus Might Affect Your Hearing Test
Your hearing test may involve multiple different examinations, including a visual examination of the middle ear using an otoscope and certain tests like an air pressure test to see how parts of your ear react to sounds when experiencing different levels of air pressure.
However, in most cases, the audiogram is going to be the central part of the hearing test. This is when you are told to sit in a booth that either has speakers or headphones. You will then listen to a variety of sounds, which may include speech, and will be asked to indicate when you hear the sound or to repeat the speech you hear. The results are then recorded on the audiogram to give you a look at your range of hearing. This can then be used to diagnose hearing loss.
Tinnitus can affect your ability to hear due to the fact that you might be hearing your tinnitus sounds in the middle of testing. This may make it more difficult to pick out words or sounds at certain pitches.
Talk to Your Audiologist About Tinnitus
Audiologists perform hearing tests regularly, which also includes tests on those who experience tinnitus. As such, they can adapt the test to meet your needs, but it’s important that you let them know about your tinnitus before the exam begins. When you tell your audiologist about your tinnitus, they will bring up other questions to find out the facts relevant to your hearing health.
As such, it’s a good idea to prepare answers to questions about your tinnitus. Think about when you first started experiencing it and any hearing problems you might have had around the same time. Make a description of the sound, such as its pitch, whether it’s loud or soft and how often you hear it or how it varies throughout the day. Are there any triggers that can make it worse?
There are all questions that your audiologist is likely to ask about your tinnitus. Certain answers may be able to help them investigate particular issues with your hearing health, so it’s important to prepare accurate answers so that you’re not caught off guard by the questions.
How can your audiologist help?
There are a few ways that audiologists can adjust the hearing test to better suit people who experience tinnitus. If you are not experiencing the symptoms at the moment of the test, then they will likely continue as normal.
However, if you experience a tinnitus spike, you should inform your audiologist. When they are playing sounds to test your hearing (often known as a tone test), they can change the type of sound that is played to one that you will be better able to pick up on past your tinnitus. Tinnitus can have a similar sound to a tone test, so the audiologist will find one that is easier to distinguish from your tinnitus.
An audiologist will also recommend that you take care of your body and ears before the test to reduce the possibility of your tinnitus spiking. This can mean getting quality sleep ahead of the test and avoiding things like cigarettes, alcohol, coffee and aspartame, which have all been linked to tinnitus as a potential trigger. It’s worth taking this advice to heart.
Get to the Bottom of Your Hearing Health with Davis Audiology
If you have any questions about hearing loss or tinnitus, or you want to get a better look at your hearing health in totality, then Davis Audiology is here to help. Learn more about the services the team provides or get help directly by calling (864) 810-6238.