Definitions of Tinnitus Health-Care Providers

Learn About the Different Types of Tinnitus Health-Care Providers

If you, or someone you know has tinnitus that is causing a problem, this is a great place to find help. 

You can seek help from a wide variety of health-care providers, including but not limited to, audiologists, otolaryngologists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, dentists, and physical therapists.  Below is a description of provider training and possible ways they can help.  Each provider listed below is required to be licensed by the state in which they provide services.  Licensure can be verified by checking the licensing board in your state.

All providers on the list support the mission of ATA, but may not necessarily specialize in the evaluation and management of tinnitus. Please note that tinnitus treatment is not within the scope of practice of hearing aid dispensers in every state. 

You can search for a tinnitus health provider in your area by visiting our provider list page.

AUDIOLOGIST:  A healthcare professional trained to identify, diagnose, and manage or treat disorders of the auditory (e.g., hearing loss and tinnitus) and vestibular systems (e.g., dizziness).  As part of a treatment program, audiologists may recommend hearing aids to make day-to-day listening easier, improve awareness, and help with tinnitus.  Some audiologists may also have additional training in the specialized evaluation and management of tinnitus and provide services such as Tinnitus Retraining Therapy, Tinnitus Activities Treatment, Progressive Tinnitus Management, etc. (https://www.ata.org/managing-your-tinnitus/treatment-options/behavioral-therapies).   

Audiologists hold either a master's’ (M.A. or M.S.) or doctorate (Au.D. or Ph.D.) degree in audiology.  Audiologists work predominantly in private practices, otolaryngology practices, academic medical centers and hospitals.

DENTIST:  A medical doctor trained to diagnose, treat and prevent oral diseases, promote oral health, and create treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health of their patients.  Dentists also diagnose Temporomandibular Joint Treatment (TMJ). If you are suffering from frequent headaches, jaw aches, and/or aching facial pain, it could be Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, also known as TMJ or TMD.  Associations between tinnitus and TMJ/TMD have been reported, so if there are symptoms of TMJ or TMD and treatment is pursued, there may be some relief from tinnitus.  Dentists hold either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM).

HEARING AID DISPENSER:  A person licensed by the state to measure hearing and fit and sell hearing aids.   Hearing aids have been shown to mitigate the intrusiveness of tinnitus.  A hearing aid dispenser does not have a college degree related to audiology, but may have a college degree in an unrelated field of study. Hearing aid dispensers may be certified (Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist, BC-HIS).  Hearing aid dispensers work in private offices and big box stores. 

LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER (a.k.a. LCSW):  A professional trained to provide mental health services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders.  The goal is to enhance and maintain physical, psychological and social function.  Some LCSWs are trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy, which is an option recommended by the American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery Clinical Practice Guidelines for Tinnitus.  LCSWs hold a master’s degree in social work.  LCSWs work in private practices, community health centers and hospitals. 

NEUROLOGIST:  A medical doctor who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, and nerves.  If you have headaches associated with your tinnitus or sensitivity to sound, you may benefit from a consultation with a neurologist.  Neurologists work in private practices, academic medical centers and hospitals.

NEUROTOLOGIST:  A medical doctor who has trained in the field of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery and evaluates and manages neurological disorders of the ear.  See Otolaryngologist.

OTOLARYNGOLOGIST (a.k.a. ENT):  A medical doctor who specializes in the evaluation and treatment of disorders of the ears, nose and throat and related structures of the head and neck.  An otolaryngologist can rule out physical causes of tinnitus such as excessive ear wax, problems with the middle ear (e.g., fluid, stiffened bones), or benign tumors on the auditory nerve.  Otolaryngologists work in private practices, academic medical centers, community health centers and hospitals.

PHYSICAL THERAPIST (a.k.a. PT):  A healthcare professional trained to diagnose and treat individuals who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.  PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability.  If you notice changes in your tinnitus associated with head and/or neck movement, or have been experiencing pain in your head or neck, your tinnitus might be associated and a physical therapist might be able to provide relief.  PTs hold a masters (MPT, MSPT) or doctorate (DPT) in physical therapy.  Physical therapists work in hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, schools, sports and fitness facilities, work settings, and nursing homes.  See http://www.apta.org/AboutPTs/

PSYCHIATRIST: A medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) trained to evaluate, diagnose and treat people who are affected by temporary or chronic mental health problems.  Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems and can prescribe medication.  If you have symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, a psychiatrist can diagnose and treat these conditions, which may result in mitigation of your tinnitus.  See https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-psychiatry

PSYCHOLOGIST:  A healthcare professional trained to help people cope more effectively with life issues and mental health problems.  Psychologists also are trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Mindful Meditation, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, methods that have been helpful for reducing the impact of tinnitus on sleep, concentration and mood.  Psychologists hold either a masters (M.A. or M.S.) or doctorate (Psy.D., Ph.D. or Ed.D).  Psychologists work in private practices, community health centers, hospitals and schools.  See http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/about-psychologists.aspx.

ATA also has a free online directory of hearing health professionals, who have self-identified as tinnitus specialists.

When you begin to notice burdensome tinnitus symptoms...

Stay calm

Tinnitus can be a very frightening condition, especially if it develops rapidly, without warning, or without a clear triggering event. However, it is important for patients with tinnitus to stay calm and not panic about their condition. Tinnitus is very, very rarely indicative of an underlying emergency or life-threatening medical situation. In some cases, tinnitus may be an acute symptom that goes away after a few days or weeks.

Please note: if your tinnitus symptoms were triggered by a traumatic physical event (head/neck damage, concussive trauma, etc.) you should immediately seek medical care to address any emergency medical conditions.

Visit your primary care provider (PCP) and audiologist

If your tinnitus continues beyond a week, becomes bothersome, starts to interfere withyour sleep and/or your concentration, or makes you depressed or anxious, seek medical attention from a trained healthcare professional. Your PCP should be able to diagnose/rule out certain causes of tinnitus, such as obstructions in the ear canal or temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ), and provide a referral to the appropriate specialist. If no underlying medical issues are found, see an audiologist for a hearing assessment and evaluation of tinnitus treatment options.

Patient Stories

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Tinnitus Research

ATA is one of the only organizations worldwide funding tinnitus research. Learn about ATA's innovative Roadmap to a Cure, and recently-funded studies.

Treatment Options

Treatment Options

You have choices when it comes to tinnitus treatment. Learn about your options, including general wellness, sound therapy, behavioral therapies and more.