Patient c/o tinnitus urgent or not?

Nurses General Nursing


I'm the only nurse that works 2nd shift. A patient came to me c/o ringing in the ears. I hate to call on call because its expensive. But I also feel its non urgent. I offered him techniques to tune it out, its not suddenly but has been ongoing before coming in my care. He says I;m not doing enough, he has Aleve he's been taking for years, I asked him to try Tylenol since NSAIDS can make Tinnitus worse. He said he'll continue taking them. I left in report to offer him Tylenol for pain instead of nsaids until Monday when we can see the Dr. Am I out my scope is there more that I can do?

No. I work in ENT and tinnitus and cerumen impaction are not emergencies. Pt does need to consult ENT to make sure there's nothing else going on, but it's not urgent for second shift.

Specializes in Trauma, Teaching.

It is a sign of aspirin overdose, but you didn't say he was on aspirin.

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

Is there anything else going on with the patient's auditory system? Sudden loss of hearing? Sudden loss of balance? Numbing or tingling of the face? Or was it just tinnitus with nothing else going on? If the tinnitus is accompanied by other symptoms, it could be a serious (and urgent) situation. It probably wasn't serious, but you can't assume that without assessing the patient more fully.

Tinnitus was my first and main symptom the day my one inner ear died. leaving me with 3 permanent conditions. (Total loss of hearing in that ear, total loss of balance function on that side, tinnitus, and slight nerve damage to that side of my face.)

In the OP's situation, it was probably not a serious situation that required urgent action. But too many health care providers don't take tinnitus as seriously as it should be taken. It can be the first sign of an infection or damage to the inner ear that can have lasting consequences.

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