Tinnitus is a symptom that can result from multiple conditions:

  • Hearing loss
  • Loud noise exposure
  • Cerumen impaction
  • Ear or sinus infection
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Diseases of the heart or blood vessels
  • Side effect from certain medications
  • Brain tumors
  • Thyroid problems

To evaluate tinnitus, a patient will have a complete head and neck exam and a hearing test. Other tests to further evaluate the underlying cause of the tinnitus may include imaging studies (such as a CT or MRI), cardiac evaluation, or balance studies.

Management is based on the source of the tinnitus. The most common cause of tinnitus is related to hearing loss or loud noise exposure, which is treated with a variety of masking techniques, and lifestyle modifications to avoid exacerbating factors.
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