When Should You See a Doctor About Tinnitus?2021-02-18 Tinnitus, or ringing in your ear(s), is often a symptom of some other underlying health condition. As it's not a disease itself, it can be challenging to treat, and many people avoid going to the doctor.
However, if your symptom persists, you must seek medical attention. Some underlying conditions can be cured or at least slowed if treated early enough.
Even if the condition can't be cured, healthcare professionals will be able to help you find solutions to deal with tinnitus.
So when should you see a doctor for tinnitus?
Below are some indicators that you should discuss your tinnitus symptoms with a healthcare professional immediately.
You’ve experienced ringing in the ears for more than a week
If you woke up this morning with a slight ringing in your ear, it might not be anything to worry about. Perhaps you have water in your ear from last night's pool party or a buildup of wax.
However, if you've experienced a constant ringing, static or buzzing sound for at least a week, you should contact a doctor to see if there is an underlying condition.
Therefore, even if your tinnitus is bearable, don't hesitate to go to a doctor if your symptoms persist.
You’re experiencing discharge from the ear
If you're experiencing discharge from an ear and also experience a constant ringing or buzzing (tinnitus), you may have an ear infection.
Ear infections are particularly common in children with four out of five children experiencing an ear infection before their third birthday. An ear infection occurs when an infection overtakes the air-filled space in the middle ear. The ear is typically painful to the touch.
While some ear infections go away on their own, you can contact your doctor to receive an antibiotic to speed up the healing process. If left untreated for an extended period of time, ear infections can result in hearing loss, mastoiditis, perforation of the eardrum, and more.
This type of tinnitus usually isn't lasting, but it's worth getting a doctor's opinion.
You feel dizzy or nauseous
If dizziness or nausea accompanies your tinnitus symptoms, you should contact a doctor immediately. While there are multiple causes for tinnitus, dizziness and nausea are also symptoms of Meniere's disease. There is no cure for Meniere's disease right now, but treating it quickly will help slow the disease's progression.
In the meantime, you should avoid caffeine, tobacco, high sodium foods, and even chocolate.
While Meniere's is a rare disease that affects only about 0.2 percent of American adults, it should be seriously examined.
You only experience symptoms in one ear
Tinnitus usually occurs bilaterally (in both ears). However, if you experience tinnitus unilaterally (one ear ringing), you should talk to a doctor as soon as possible.
Unilateral tinnitus is usually a sign of Meniere's disease, or Idiopathic Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (ISSNHL). ISSNHL is quite serious, and studies have shown that patients that are treated earlier (in say 24 hours) have a much higher recovery rate. In fact, most doctors will refer you to a specialist for a same-day appointment to begin treatment immediately.
The symptom is rhythmic with your pulse (pulsatile)
Tinnitus noises can be constant or infrequent, though if you notice it's steady with your pulse, you should make a doctor's appointment sooner than later.
Pulsatile tinnitus can be an indicator of anything from high blood pressure and vascular malformations to head and neck tumors or aneurysms.
However, the majority of underlying conditions are not very serious, and pulsatile tinnitus is usually just an indicator of a blood vessel with fluid in the eardrum.
Only 10 percent of all tinnitus patients suffer from pulsatile tinnitus, and it is often audible to doctors as well.
What Kind of Doctor Treats Tinnitus?
As nearly 90 percent of those with tinnitus also experience hearing loss, a tinnitus audiologist is an ideal doctor for hearing loss. The audiologist will give you a tinnitus hearing test to see what is causing your tinnitus and better understand how to treat it. You will be able to live with tinnitus and there are options to increase your quality of life.