If you had a tooth with a painful cavity, you wouldn’t try to fill it yourself; you’d go to a dentist. Likewise, if your leg was broken, you wouldn’t try to set the fracture yourself. You’d go to a hospital emergency room where you’d expect to see an orthopedic surgeon or an emergency room physician skilled in setting fractures.
So who should you see if you think you have a hearing loss? An audiologist is a degreed professional who specializes in the diagnosis and non-medical treatment of hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders.
Audiologists Receive Extensive Training
Audiologists receive extensive education in hearing and balance disorders. These professionals have earned postgraduate masters and/or doctoral degrees. A doctoral degree is now required for graduates practicing after 2012. Look for the initials Au.D., (Doctor of Audiology – clinical degree); or Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy – research and/or clinical research degree); to designate doctoral training.
What Can Audiologists Do?
- Provide comprehensive hearing evaluations
- Recommend, fit, service, and adjust hearing aids
- Recommend and provide assistive listening devices (products to enhance telephone conversations, television viewing, etc.)
- Diagnose and treat dizziness/balance disorders
- Provide tinnitus evaluation, treatment and management
- Provide education regarding the effects of noise on hearing and prevention of hearing loss, along with recommending and fitting hearing protection
- Deliver counseling and aural rehabilitation (counseling, education, auditory training/exercises)
- Make medical referrals to a physician when appropriate for issues such as ear pain, drainage from the ear, sudden hearing loss, cochlear implantation, medical conditions, etc.
Audiologists Help You Choose the Right Hearing Aid
There are literally hundreds of hearing aids available with a wide variety of features. Because hearing aids are medical devices regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they must be recommended, prescribed, and fitted by licensed professionals. This standard is in place to protect the individual with hearing loss.
An audiologist can use advanced diagnostic testing to determine your type of hearing loss, and can use this information to determine the best hearing aid solution for your specific needs and budget. In fact, a recent study confirmed that individuals who work with an audiologist are more satisfied with their hearing aids.
Don’t leave your hearing to chance. Treat it like any other significant medical condition and see an expert who can help you hear your best.