Patients who experience tinnitus can experience serious charge, even psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation. Fortunately, most patients are not affected in this way and are referred by their family doctor in the ENT clinic in their area.
At the clinic, the ENT doctor will ask questions to determine the nature of your problem and accompanying symptoms. If your symptoms suggest you may have problems that can come from disorders of the ear, nose or throat, central nervous system or major neck vessels you will undergo a thorough examination.
You will probably undergo a tone audiogram and according to the results you will be further tested. In this way the rare specific tinnitus causes can be diagnosed and referred for appropriate treatment. However, for the vast majority of patients the test will show that there is no result of life-threatening state or at least there is no serious damage and your doctor can be pretty sure about that, regardless of what you may fear. Such assurances about the nature of the problem help to suppress the patient’s fears, which are a significant source of stress, which maintains the tinnitus. The next step is to find ways to address the problem.
The goal in the treatment of tinnitus is to relieve the disorder of the brain stem, caused by the sounds. The brainstem may help to “learn” that the noises are not a form of threat and eventually can be ignored (acclimatization), so that they do not become conscious and they do not trigger the early warning system. In many patients, a careful examination, appropriate laboratory tests and a well-documented interpretation of what is happening is enough to begin the process of acclimatization. Of course, interactions between the brainstem and higher brain centers are complex and poorly understood. Other patients may need more help, depending on the severity and degree of discomfort brought about by tinnitus on their personality.