Scientifically, hearing is just the effect of vibrations at different frequencies upon your ear drums. But practically, hearing is process that gives you your child’s first cry. It gives you the joy of hearing “I do” at the altar. But what happens when hearing is difficult or impossible for someone? What kind of doctor do they see? There are many doctors that can treat problems with the ears and hearing, and audiologists are some of those well-trained specialists. Let’s look deeper into what audiologists do and how they help treat those with hearing problems.
From the French word “audīre” meaning “to hear” and the Greek and French words for the suffix “-logy” meaning “the study of,” audiology is the “branch of science dealing with hearing.” (Merriam Webster). Specifically, audiologists are medical professionals that identify and treat hearing disorders as well as balance issues and other neural system problems. They delve into the neurological field, but usually focus on problems of the auditory systems. Known as “the hearing doctor,” audiologists work to diagnose and treat hearing problems in patients in a variety of settings including, but not limited to, the following:
- VA Hospitals
- Private Practices
- ENT Offices
- K-12 Schools/Universities
Audiologists provide a multitude of treatments and services for their patients. From newborn patients to adult patients, an audiologist can treat patients at all ages. Audiologists complete newborn hearing screening programs as well as tests for those who suspect hearing problems later in life. These tests can also evaluate and diagnosis balance disorders as well as hearing disorders. For those patients that require medical equipment to hear properly, an audiologist selects, fits, and dispenses hearing aids and/or other listening devices to those patients. They can also treat patients that are experiencing tinnitus, or ringing in the ears.
Audiologists also contribute to the medical community in ways other than directly treating patients. They contribute to the research and development of new treatments and procedures for hearing loss, tinnitus, balance system dysfunctions, and other auditory-related disorders and diseases. They also work with other medical professionals, such as pediatric audiologists, speech pathologists, early intervention specialists, and others to provide the best care for patients. Audiologists can also provide education to patients on the uses of their hearing devices, effects of noise on their hearing loss, and many other topics of which they are well versed.
There is special training that audiologists must go through. First, they must obtain a master’s degree in Audiology. Though not necessary, many audiologists also achieve their doctorate in Audiology (AuD). After achieving their master’s, audiologist hopefuls must serve a fellowship year followed by passing their board exam to receive their audiology license and accreditation. They can also receive their certification from ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) as well as their state licensing. Once they complete these steps, they can practice as a licensed audiologist. Although, most audiologists continue their education and training by receiving continuing education credits with also count towards their licensing requirements.
An audiologist, though sometimes called “the hearing doctor,” can do a lot more for patients than one may think. By staying up-to-date on their training and education, they are able to expand their treatments and diagnoses by adapting to new research made available. This combined knowledge and their treatments provided on a regular basis is what makes them so valuable to the medical community as well as their hard-of-hearing and other patients that they treat.
If you have any questions about what an audiologist can do for you, contact the specialists at Camellia ENT! Their trained medical staff will answer your questions and help you find the right treatment!