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5 FAQs About Audiologists

Hearing Exam

Just as dentists take care of teeth and optometrists deal with eyes, audiologists manage hearing issues. More often than not, people commonly see audiologists when they need hearing aids. However, there is much more to the profession. Here are five frequently asked questions about audiologists.

1. What is an audiologist?

Audiologists are professionals with a medical degree, clinical training and are licensed by the state in which they practice. Most audiologists have a doctoral degree in audiology (Au.D.). Others may have a doctorate in science (Sc.D.) or philosophy (Ph.D.). These professionals diagnose and treat hearing loss as well as inner ear problems, particularly relating to balance. Audiologists are skilled at evaluating and managing hearing loss in people of all ages, providing specialized hearing tests for infants, children and adults.

2. What services are provided by audiologists?

Audiologists perform physical examinations of the ear along with diagnostic exams. In addition to hearing tests, audiologists also can test for tinnitus, vertigo and Meniere’s disease. If your exam results show hearing loss, these professionals offer counseling and advice. Audiologists not only fit hearing aids, but also offer cleaning, maintenance and repair services. Audiologists also make earmolds and earplugs and discuss safeguarding your hearing with special protection (for example, if you are exposed to loud noises on a regular basis).

3. What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist?

The major difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist is education. As mentioned above, audiologists have advanced degrees. They can make medical diagnoses. Hearing instrument specialists may have up to two years of schooling in the profession. They cannot perform medical evaluations and commonly are trained to fit hearing aids.

4. How do I know if I have hearing loss?

A hearing exam is the best way to determine if you have any hearing loss. If you haven’t had your hearing checked since you were in school, it’s a good idea to see an audiologist for a baseline exam. If you’re in your mid 50s and haven’t had a hearing test, it’s time to schedule one. Most people have some degree of hearing loss by their 50s and 60s. Today’s hearing aids are designed for an active lifestyle and can digitally improve your hearing.

5. How do I find an audiologist?

There are many ways to find an audiologist! Most people ask a friend or relative or their primary health care provider for a referral. The internet is a good resource as well – check professional audiologist sites for members in your area. Many audiologists will meet with you prior to an appointment to answer any questions.

These five frequently asked questions about audiologists should provide the necessary information for you to move ahead with an evaluation if you suspect some hearing loss. Just as you see your optometrist or dentist on a regular basis, it’s also a good idea to have an audiologist periodically check your hearing.