What is an Audiologist? Learn about Audiology and Hearing Problems

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What is an Audiologist?

An audiologist is a licensed healthcare worker who specializes in treating hearing loss and other disorders that affect the ears. They can diagnose disease and conditions that affect the ears and cause balance problems, hearing problems, speech problems, and other issues. They can recommend treatment options that can restore hearing and help their patients live normal lives.

How does a doctor become an Audiologist?

To become an audiologist, a person must attend college and graduate with an undergraduate degree. Next, they must complete medical school, which usually takes another four years. Once they have completed medical school, they will take more classes focused on audiology and also complete a fellowship or residence. This can take another two to four years to complete. Some employers also prefer that the audiologist have a certification of clinical competence in audiology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

What are the common diseases managed by an Audiologist?

Audiologists treat a variety of conditions and disease that can affect the ears. They mainly focus on issues that affect hearing, balance, and speech. Some of the most common condition they treat include:

  • Hearing loss: Audiologists diagnose the cause of hearing loss and help restore it.
  • Auditory processing disorder: Sometimes there are no problems with the actual ears, but instead, how sounds are processed. Audiologists can help correct these issues.
  • Tinnitus: Tinnitus occurs when a person hears a sound even though there is no sound present. It can sometimes be referred to as a ringing in the ears. It is often a symptom of an underlying issue. Audiologists can find the underlying causes and correct it.
  • Hyperacusis: Hyperacusis is a sensitivity to sound or certain pitches. Audiologists can help determine the reason for the sensitivity and help resolve the issue.
  • Misophonia: Is a hatred of sound or the inability to tolerate certain sounds. Audiologists can help patients learn to tolerate these sounds.
  • Balance disorders: Some people suffer from balance disorders that are caused by problems in the inner ear.

What are the diagnostic tests and procedures ordered by an Audiologist?

  • Tympanometry: This test checks the condition of the middle ear and the mobility of the eardrum.
  • Otoacoustic Emission Measures: This test measures the response of the inner ear when sounds hit it.
  • Hearing Exams: These tests determine the severity of hearing loss.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response Tests: These tests determine how the signals are transmitted from the cochlea to the brain.
  • Ear Measurements: The ear is measured for various hearing aid devices.
  • Auditory Processing Disorder Evaluations: These tests determine how well the brain processes sounds and noises.

What are the different types of Audiologists?

  • Private Practice Audiologist: The audiologists work in their own offices or might be partnered with other audiologists or specialists. The work in a clinical setting and treat patients in their offices.
  • Research Audiologist: Research audiologists do medical research to find new tests and treatments to help patients.
  • Device Specialists: Device specialists work with hearing devices to customize them for patients and to make them better for all hearing patients.

How do Audiologists treat hearing problems?

  • Hearing Aids: Hearing aids are one of the most common treatments used for hearing loss. They can be used in patients of almost any age and can help restore a patient’s hearing significantly. Audiologists can recommend the correct type or hearing aid, fit a patient for the hearing aid, and place the hearing aid in the patient’s ear.
  • Implants: Cochlear implants are an option for many patients who have hearing loss. An audiologist can help determine if the implant will help and attach it.
  • Surgery: Surgery can be done to repair damage to the eardrum or other problems in the ear.
  • Counseling: In some cases, a patient might need counseling to help them deal with sound tolerance and other disorders.

When to see an Audiologist?

Most people wait until their hearing has deteriorated before they see an audiologist, but this is never a good idea. The sooner a person seeks treatment, the more likely they will be to have their hearing restored. Some reasons to see an audiologist include: