Today, the demand for audiologists—key hearing health professionals—is greater than ever before. This Audientes Insights article will provide you with essential information about these medical practitioners. You will learn not only what they do, but also how to find one. The article also includes information about what will take place during your audiology appointment.
Audiologists are healthcare professionals who diagnose and treat hearing and balance disorders. They have extensive knowledge about the of the anatomy and physiology of the ear. Using their expertise, these hearing health professionals are able to measure your hearing ability, provide rehabilitation and work with you to prevent further hearing loss.
One of the most common reasons that people make an audiology appointment is to receive hearing aid-related services. Indeed, audiologists are experts at dispensing, fitting and adjusting hearing aids—as well as providing hearing aid advice and counseling.
Audiologists typically work in hospitals or clinics. They may also be employed by schools, universities, companies, government health services, or other institutions.
It’s important to note that audiologists are generally not able to prescribe medication or perform surgery. They will make referrals to other health care providers if you need a treatment that is beyond the scope of their expertise. For more information about an audiologist’s role, visit www.audiology.org.
The level of accreditation required to become an audiologist varies by country. Typically, a bachelor of science (B.S. or B.Sc.) degree in an audiology or a closely-related field is considered the minimum necessary academic qualification. In some cases, a master of science (M.S. or M.Sc.) degree is required.
Across countries, required academic qualifications have been rising over time. Nevertheless, the United States is currently the only country to require that audiologists obtain a doctoral degree (Doctorate of Audiology, or Au.D).
Finding an audiologist
If you’re reading this article, you may be wondering “How can I find an audiologist near me?” or, more pointedly, “How can I find the best audiologist near me?”
Often, the answer is as simple as asking your primary-care physician or another trusted healthcare provider for a referral. Alternatively, if you already know the name of the hospital or clinic where you would like to have an audiology appointment, you can call directly and ask for information about the audiology staff.
Another excellent way to start your search is by asking family or friends—especially those who wear hearing aids—for recommendations. They may be able to tell you about hearing healthcare specialists who they’ve worked with in the past.
The internet is another great resource for finding an audiologist. In some cases, your local hospital’s website will provide information about its audiology staff. You can also search for specific practitioners online, using search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing. You will find that many audiologists maintain their own websites where you can learn more about them, their qualifications and the services they offer.
Your audiology appointment
Audiologists usually start by asking about your family, medical and surgical histories. They will also ask about any hearing or balance-related issues you’ve been having. They will explore whether there are any factors that may be contributing to your hearing loss, such as genetics, autoimmune disorders, infections, excessive earwax or noise trauma.
Caption: Audientes’ resident audiologist, Dr. Ursula Teriaky, who has been in practice for over 25 years.
Next, you will likely undergo a visual examination of your ears with an otoscope, a tool that uses light and magnification to allow for inspection of the ear canal and eardrum. A tympanometry test will then generally follow. In this type of test, a probe is placed into your ear to determine whether there is middle-ear damage.
Next, you will be given hearing tests to assess your hearing acuity. The pure-tone test (also known as ‘audiometry’) is the most well-known of these tests—it involves wearing earphones or headphones in a soundproof room or booth. You will be asked to raise your hand (or press a button) as you hear sounds at various frequencies and noise levels.
For more information about hearing tests, see the Audientes Insights article Hearing Tests: Your Options.
In some cases, if hearing loss is detected during the screening process, there may be a referral to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) physician for further exploration. Your audiologist will coordinate with the ENT to help develop a treatment plan based on your diagnosis. If there is any suspicion of physical trauma, you will be referred to a medical doctor for immediate treatment.
Read more about treating hearing loss.
If you are experiencing hearing loss, making an appointment with an audiologist can be a good first step in addressing it. These skilled hearing health care professionals are experts at diagnosing and treating hearing-related issues.