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      How is tinnitus diagnosed?

      If you think you have tinnitus, the first step is to see your GP, who will check your ears for obvious causes that can be treated, and refer you to a specialist for further tests if needed.

      What will happen when I see my GP?

      When you see your GP, they will ask you some questions about your symptoms, such as:

      • What type of sound can you hear?
      • Does the sound come and go, or is it there all the time?
      • Do you hear the sound in one or both ears?
      • Is tinnitus having an impact on your everyday life?
      • Have you noticed any other symptoms, such as hearing loss or balance problems?

      Your GP
      may also ask you if you’re taking any medication, as some types of drugs  can be linked to tinnitus. See our factsheet Tinnitus – causes and therapies to find out more.

      Make sure you explain in detail how your tinnitus is affecting you – for example, is it making you anxious? Are you having trouble sleeping or finding it hard to cope?

      Your GP will check your ear for any obvious problems that they may be able to treat, such as an ear-wax blockage. They may also carry out a simple hearing test and arrange blood tests to check for conditions that can sometimes linked to tinnitus, such as diabetes or a problem with your thyroid gland.

      If there’s no obvious cause of your tinnitus, your GP should refer you to a hearing specialist for further tests. You can expect to wait 6–18 weeks for this appointment.

      Find out what you can do to help you cope with tinnitus while you wait.

      What if I can’t get a referral?

      If you find it hard to get a referral to a hearing specialist, it may be because your GP isn’t aware of the impact that tinnitus can have, or the help that’s available. That’s why it’s so important to tell them how your tinnitus is affecting your day-to-day life. You may also find it helpful to take our leaflet Understanding tinnitus with you to show your GP.

      If you still can’t get a referral, try seeing a different GP. Remember, you have the right to a second opinion.

      What will happen when I’m referred?

      You’ll be seen by either an audiologist (a hearing specialist) or an ear, nose and throat specialist. They will give you a check-up to see if there are any underlying causes of your tinnitus. You’ll also have a hearing assessment.

      If your tinnitus is troubling you, you may then be referred to a tinnitus clinic for therapies to help you manage your tinnitus. Some hospitals have tinnitus clinics but not all – you may need to travel a bit further to access one.