Tinnitus & Hearing Tests: I attended my... - British Tinnitus ...

British Tinnitus Association

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Tinnitus & Hearing Tests


I attended my annual Hearing Test with my audiologist and I was amazed at the lack of consideration for me as one living with severe Tinnitus.

My Tinnitus started in 1989 very suddenly following a very bad cold and overcoming a stressful time visiting an Architectural Colleague of mine in my local Hospital. He had fallen under a train and took months to recover.

I rather suspect the combination of the two events may have been contributory to my developing Tinnitus which began as an attack of Ménière's disease affecting my balance. Luckily for me, the dizziness faded away but I was left with the continuous ringing and buzzing in both ears.

However, in recent months, it is quite pronounced with additional sounds such as an engine noise or a humming sound. A very interesting mix, different in each ear ! Enough to send me bats !

My audiologist is someone I have known since 2009 and a very compassionate professional. Luckily, he has my audiogram readings from these last few years and has been able to provide me with a very good hearing aid.

In this recent hearing test certain things came to my mind which has made me wonder - how do other people living with Tinnitus cope with hearing tests?

What I was acutely aware of was the following things :-

1.I have an abject fear of hearing tests anyway (Psychological fear) and therefore tension/stress becomes into play.

2. The Setting : I was positioned with my back to his audiology testing device. This made the above starting point more apparent !

3. He said that he was going to test each ear randomly….Woah ! Now I am beginning to panic... How do I differentiate my Tinnitus sounds against his frequency sounds ? This has really made me feel so uneasy now !

4. Result ? A completely zero rated hearing test with a very exasperated client !

So what would have helped?

I am thankful that, with my hearing aid, I can hear reasonably well so long as those I am speaking with, are aware of my condition, they speak clearly and face me when including me during meetings or conversations.

I think that improved methods need to be created and established to get the best from hearing test results for those living with Tinnitus.

I will be very interested to discuss this with other people who are living with Tinnitus on their experiences of their hearing tests; both with NHS Audiology or private dispensers.

I think this warrants a survey in the near future- possibly in partnership with the British Tinnitus Association . I think we need to understand just how widespread this issue is. Do get in touch and share with me your hearing test experiences. as I am considering research into this condition.

4 Replies

You bring up some interesting points. My experiences with ENT were pretty poor 6 years ago when I obtained my screech. One consultant even offered to sever my auditory nerve! Even nowadays tinnitus is seen by many professionals as being a low priory issue and a waste of resources.

I believe the biggest part of the suffering side to tinnitus (even the cause in some circumstances) is psychological. I’ve tried to explain this in other posts on this forum so I apologise for not repeating it again.

My own observations after having spoken to so many people who have T is that’s it’s much more common than we think. For some reason most people just take it in their stride, but for others, it becomes a serious issue. The same different approaches can be seen when taking tests like hearing tests and MRI scans.

I’m sure over self awareness and obsessive tendencies are a factor. Add stress and fear into the pot and things get even worse.

Spotted in reply to Hidden

HI asw21, I somewhat agree with you to some extent on the stress and fear concept.

However, I am not sure if you are considering the issue with hard of hearing people using hearing aids who have to also participate in hearing tests. I also believe , that my ears are kind of 'searching' for a sound to hear to compensate for the loss of ability to hear sounds naturally. As I said in my article , when I was having the test, introducing pitched sounds seemed to get confused with the Tinnitus sound I am experiencing.

The scenario was also , psychologically wrong -that I do agree with you is my emotional response .

But separating that : I am experiencing the difficulty to differentiate which is the pitch introduced sound via the hearing test headphone and which is my Tinnitus sound. From this , hearing tests seem to fail me .

What is the best way to undertake a hearing test , get an accurate audiogram reading from one who has severe rip roaring Tinnitus ? I would love to know.

Hidden in reply to Spotted

I suppose it depends on the type of tinnitus. If the T is very random and changeable then the results could also be random and changeable. So I agree, an audiogram under those conditions might be less useful (but still might’ be better than nothing).

I’m no expert but I would imagine it’s easier to build up a more accurate audiogram if the T is at fixed frequencies or white noise. If the test tone is at the T frequency it may get masked by the T or noticed just as an increase in volume at that frequency. Either way the result is still useful.

Interestingly when I carried out tests with myself, if I played a tone through headphones which matched my T frequency, then removed it, the T would momentarily disappear!

The hearing in my right ear is very poor now after spending so many years playing just feet away from a drummer. Hearing aids are probably not far around the corner for me.


Hello and welcome to the British Tinnitus Association forum. Do feel free to ask any questions, I hope that you find this a helpful and supportive place to help you manage your tinnitus.

We have some resources that you might like to check out in addition to our home here:



Helpline 0800 018 0527 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm) (outside the UK you can call +44 (0)114 250 9922)

Warmest wishes

Nic (BTA Communications Manager and Forum Administrator)

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