Diagnosing tinnitus

It is very important to see your GP if you have problems with your hearing, such as hearing ringing or buzzing sounds. They will ask you about the noises you can hear and may examine your ears.

To establish what is causing your tinnitus, your GP may refer you to:

  • the ear, nose and throat (ENT) department at your local hospital
  • the audiological medicine department
  • the audiology department 
  • hearing therapy

Tinnitus can be caused by a wide range of different health conditions, many of which can be easily treated, such as high blood pressure (hypertension) or a build-up of earwax.

An otolaryngologist is a specialist in treating conditions that affect the ears and voice box (larynx). They may carry out a number of tests to help rule out any possible underlying causes, and they will also look at your medical history and ask you about the type and severity of the noises you can hear.

Tests that may be used when trying to establish the cause of tinnitus include:

Scans, such as a computerised tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, may also be recommended so that the inside of your ear, auditory nerve and brain can be examined in greater detail.

Last updated: 07 March 2012

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