Ear, Nose & Throat

Should I Go to An ENT Specialist for Tinnitus?

written by Becki Andrus

Do you feel like you can hear ringing in your ears, even when there is no external source causing the sound? Then it’s possible that you might have tinnitus.

This condition is quite common, with more than 50 million people in the United States experiencing tinnitus at some point.

Approximately 20% of people with tinnitus have symptoms that take a toll on their functional health or quality of life. These symptoms can last six months or more and might require medical intervention for a patient to find relief.

What Tinnitus Sounds/Feels Like

The symptoms vary from one patient to the next. Some people find that tinnitus affects both ears, while others only have the symptoms in one ear.

The pitch can range from a low noise to a high whine or squeal. Sometimes the sound is the same from one day to the next, or it might change to include many different sounds. There are a few most common symptoms that occur when a patient has tinnitus.

  • Constant ringing in the ears (low- or high-pitched)
  • Intermittent ringing in the ears
  • A sensation of roaring in the ears
  • Beating or pulsation sounds
  • May or may not be connected with hearing loss

Most Common Causes of Tinnitus

The best way to identify an effective treatment is by finding the root cause of tinnitus. Often, tinnitus is a symptom of another health condition. Your doctor or ENT specialist will help you identify if there is an underlying cause that can be treated.

Outer Ear

One potential cause of tinnitus is excess wax in the ear canal. If wax buildup is present in the outer ear, it can change how the eardrum vibrates and could cause pressure that results in tinnitus symptoms.

Middle Ear

Various conditions in the middle ear can also lead to tinnitus symptoms. Examples include an infection in the middle ear, muscle spasms, or a hardening of the tiny ear bones (known as otosclerosis).

Inner Ear

It’s common for tinnitus to happen because of something that is occurring in the inner ear. There are tiny sensory hair cells in this part of the ear. If the hairs are damaged or lost, then it might lead to tinnitus symptoms.

These small hair cells can be damaged by certain medications or excessive noise exposure. At times, tinnitus is the first symptom of damage – preceding hearing loss. If you are experiencing tinnitus and are often exposed to loud sounds, then it’s a good idea to be careful about protecting your ears to prevent hearing loss.


It’s also possible for tinnitus to develop because of the way the brain is affected. Head trauma, a brain tumor, or other uncommon disorders can lead to these symptoms.

What Kind of Doctor Should You See If You Have Tinnitus?

Since tinnitus involves sounds in one or both ears, it is often associated with hearing. Different parts of the hearing system could be involved, especially the inner ear.

So, it makes the most sense to visit an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist if you are seeking a diagnosis and treatment for tinnitus. Our team at Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat has both ENTs and an audiologist who can assist with anything affecting the hearing system.

Sometimes, it’s easy to find the association between tinnitus and a part of the hearing system that is contributing to the symptoms. Other times, it’s more difficult to find this connection.

Can an ENT Do Anything About Tinnitus?

Before implementing any type of treatment plan, the ENT doctor will complete a full evaluation including an examination and conversation about your medical history. You will complete a self-assessment to describe the symptoms, frequency, and how bothersome tinnitus is (and the way it is impacting your life).

This targeted examination might involve hearing tests. Usually, there is no need for digital scans (MRI, CT scan, or x-rays). These imaging tests are only necessary when the doctor suspects neurological abnormalities.

Keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all “cure” for tinnitus. But there are different options that can help you manage the symptoms and improve overall quality of life.

Is It Necessary to Talk to a Doctor About Tinnitus?

If your symptoms are mild and not disrupting your daily activities, then an evaluation might not be necessary. For example, patients who have been experiencing mild tinnitus for less than six months probably don’t need to talk to a doctor. Pay attention to see if your symptoms are improving naturally over time.

Most people don’t have serious or bothersome symptoms. When the symptoms are persisting or affecting your life in various ways, then it might be time to seek medical support.

If you are tired of living with these symptoms, then talk to an ENT specialist about a diagnosis to identify the underlying cause. Then, a specific treatment plan can be implemented.

  • Ear Wax Removal: When excess ear wax is present, removing the wax might be a solution to alleviate tinnitus symptoms.
  • Middle Ear Fluid: Medications or other treatments for clearing middle ear fluid can sometimes be helpful.
  • Hearing Aids: If tinnitus is connected to hearing loss, then the use of hearing aids sometimes alleviates the symptoms. Hearing aid technology can include built-in ear-level maskers that help to cover up the ringing noises.
  • Therapy or Counseling: Meeting with a psychologist can be helpful to improve quality of life. Some patients benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy, especially when the patient has depression or anxiety and find it extremely difficult to tolerate tinnitus symptoms.

You might see recommendations online to use certain supplements or dietary changes to help with tinnitus. But the truth is there is no proven evidence that these things help. The best solution is to consult with an experienced ENT for science-based treatments.

How Do You Deal with Constant Tinnitus?

If tinnitus can’t be cured, the next step is to find ways to deal with the symptoms and minimize the way these symptoms are affecting your daily life.

Sometimes, something as simple as turning on background music can make a difference in the symptoms. Soft music can alleviate the discomfort by covering up the ringing or distracting you from the ringing.

Another option is to turn on a white noise machine or fan to cover up the sounds. Many patients find this strategy helpful while sleeping at night.

Also, masking devices can be used for patients who don’t have hearing aids. These devices are worn on the ear (similar to a hearing aid) and suppress the symptoms by providing a low-level white noise to minimize how much you are noticing the tinnitus symptoms.

Talk to an ENT About Tinnitus

Are you desperate for relief from the symptoms of tinnitus? If you are dealing with chronic tinnitus and it is lasting for months, it might be time to reach out to an expert for diagnosis and treatment.

The first step is to visit with an ENT near your home, in the Collin County or Dallas area. At Collin County Ear, Nose, and Throat, we offer the testing and diagnostics that you need. In addition to ENTs, we also have an in-office audiologist to ensure the best results for each patient.

You are invited to schedule an appointment at one of our offices in the area: either Frisco or Plano, TX. Use our online form to request an appointment, or call: (972) 596-4005.

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