What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses, treats, and manages individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. Audiologists have received a Master's or Doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program. Their academic and clinical training provides the foundation for patient management from birth through adulthood. Audiologists determine appropriate patient treatment of hearing and balance problems by combining a complete history with a variety of specialized auditory and vestibular assessments. Based upon the diagnosis, the audiologist presents a variety of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment or balance problems. Audiologists dispense and fit hearing aids as part of a comprehensive habilitative program. Audiologists may be found working in medical centers and hospitals, private practice settings, schools, government health facilities and agencies, as well as colleges and universities. As a primary hearing health provider, audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing or balance problem requires medical or surgical evaluation or treatment.
Why should someone with hearing loss be evaluated by an audiologist?
Audiologists hold Master's or Doctoral degrees from accredited universities with special training in the prevention, identification, assessment and non-medical treatment of hearing disorders. Audiologists are required to complete a full-time internship and pass a demanding national competency examination. By virtue of their graduate education and licensure, audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patients for medical treatment and provide hearing rehabilitation services.
How do I know if I have a hearing loss?
Hearing loss often occurs so gradually that you may not be aware of the problem. In fact, a family member is often the first to detect a hearing loss by having to speak louder or repeat themselves.
What should I do if I suspect a hearing loss?
Consult an audiologist who is trained to identify whether a hearing loss requires a medical or nonmedical treatment. An audiologist will refer you to the appropriate medical specialist when necessary. The audiologist will identify, diagnose, treat and manage your hearing loss.
What are some early signs of hearing loss?
- Turning the TV or radio volume louder than other family members.
- Difficulty understanding speech in background noise.
- Difficulty hearing in meetings.
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears.
- People seem to mumble.
What are Social Signs of Hearing Loss?
- Require frequent repetition.
- Have difficulty following conversations involving more than two people.
- Think that other people sound muffled or like they're mumbling.
- Have difficulty hearing in noisy situations like conferences, restaurants, malls, or crowded meeting rooms.
- Have your TV or radio turned up to a high volume.
- Answer or respond inappropriately in conversations.
- Have ringing in your ears.
- Read lips or more intently watch people's faces when they speak with you.
What are Emotional Signs of Hearing Loss?
- Feel stressed out from straining to hear what others are saying.
- Feel annoyed at other people because your can't hear or understand them.
- Feel embarrassed to meet new people or from misunderstanding what others are saying.
- Feel nervous about trying to hear and understand.
- Withdraw from social situations that you once enjoyed because of difficulty hearing.
What are Medical Signs of Hearing Loss?
- Have a family history of hearing loss.
- Take medications that can harm the hearing system (ototoxic drugs).
- Have diabetes or heart, circulation, or thyroid problems.
- Have been exposed to very loud sounds over a long period or single exposure to explosive noise.