by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
How in the world do I get a sensible hearing test when I have so much internal noise in my ears? My tinnitus sounds just like the “beeps” I’m supposed to be hearing
You have a valid concern. A number of people have asked me the same question. During pure tone testing, the fear is that your tinnitus will mask the faint pure-tone “beeps” especially when they are at the same frequency.
I have the same problem. Fortunately, there are a couple of solutions that work for me. They should work for you also.
Many audiometers now can produce 2 or 3 different “kinds” of tones. However, most people are only familiar with the standard single pure tone “beeps.” Before the test, ask your audiologist what other sounds her audiometer can produce besides these simple “beeps.”
The best one I’ve found is a warble sound. Warble tones are very distinctive. You won’t mix up warble tones with your tinnitus or other phantom sounds–at least I never have. I wish all audiometers had a warble tone option.
If the audiometer doesn’t have a warble tone, the next best solution is the double beep sound. Instead of a single “beep,” you hear a “beep-beep” and by listening for the break between the two beeps, you can more easily separate the audiometer’s sound from your tinnitus or other phantom sounds. This works for me too. However, the warble is still much easier to detect.
Ask for one of these options and you will feel more confident that the pure tone testing produced valid results in spite of your tinnitus.