Approach to the patient with tinnitus in primary care
Tinnitus is an irritating symptom which affects approximately 10% of the population. In Latin tinnire means, “to ring.” Tinnitus is described as any sound deriving from the head, which does not originate from an external source. There may be hissing, buzzing, squealing, whining, clicking, or popping noises. Tinnitus may be unilateral, bilateral, transient or continuous. The purpose of the assessment is to reveal the cause of tinnitus. In tinnitus with a history of exposure to noise or ototoxic drugs with symmetrical hearing loss, and if vascular or neurological symptoms do not lead to another etiology, there may not be a need for further evaluation. An accurate hearing test should be performed. If the equipment is not available in the primary care setting, the audiometric assessment should be made at hospital or a special office. Tinnitus may occur due to central causes, and in this case, sometimes, tinnitus might be the first symptom.