audiologist holding an otoscope

Hearing Doctor: The Role of an Audiologist

If you’ve ever had concerns about your hearing or have been advised to seek professional help for hearing issues, you may have come across different terms like audiologist, hearing aid dispenser, hearing specialist, or ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist).

It can be confusing to understand the roles and differences between these professionals in the field of hearing care. In this blog post, we will shed light on the distinct roles and responsibilities of an audiologist.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist plays a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing issues and balance disorders. They are highly trained medical professionals who have an extensive knowledge of the auditory system and are equipped with the skills to provide comprehensive hearing care.

Audiologists are licensed healthcare professionals who hold a master’s or doctoral degree in audiology. They are trained to address not only hearing loss but also tinnitus and balance disorders, which are conditions that affect the inner ear. 

They can work independently or in collaboration with other medical professionals, such as ENTs, neurologists, and speech therapists to provide comprehensive care.

Role of an audiologist

Conducting hearing tests

One of the primary responsibilities of an audiologist is to conduct a hearing test. There are various types of hearing tests, and each test helps evaluate a person’s ability to hear and understand sounds. 

By using various techniques and equipment, an audiologist can determine the type and extent of hearing loss a patient may be experiencing. Hearing tests also help in identifying the underlying causes of hearing impairment, such as damage to the auditory nerve or inner ear.

Creating a treatment plan

Once a diagnosis is established, audiologists work closely with the patient to develop a personalized treatment plan. This may include recommending hearing aids, cochlear implants, or assistive listening devices based on the patient’s specific needs. 

Hearing aid fitting and programming

Audiologists are skilled in fitting and programming hearing aids to ensure optimal functionality and improved hearing. Most audiologists practice real ear measurement or real ear verification to ensure that the hearing aid is adjusted accurately to match a patient’s unique and very specific hearing loss.

What is the difference between an audiologist and an ENT?

While both professionals deal with ear-related conditions, their areas of expertise differ. 

An audiologist is the go-to professional when it comes to hearing tests, hearing aid fittings, and ongoing hearing care. Meanwhile, an ENT is a medical doctor specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat. 

ENTs commonly treat issues like ear infections, eardrum perforations, and congenital abnormalities. 

What is the difference between an audiologist and hearing aid dispenser?

When seeking hearing care, it is advisable to see an audiologist as they can evaluate your hearing and provide a comprehensive treatment plan. Audiologists are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify the cause of hearing loss and recommend the most suitable interventions. 

A hearing aid dispenser, also known as a hearing instrument specialist, focuses primarily on the dispensing and fitting of hearing aids. While they may have knowledge about the different types of hearing aids available in the market, their expertise is generally limited to the fitting process, not on the diagnosis of the type and extent of hearing loss. 

Hearing aid dispensers are not typically involved in diagnosing or treating hearing disorders. Audiologists provide a more comprehensive approach to hearing healthcare, considering the patient’s unique needs and offering a wider range of treatment options.

Why should you see an audiologist?

If you have concerns about your hearing or experience symptoms of hearing loss, it would be best to seek professional help from an audiologist. They can provide regular hearing tests and check-ups to detect any issues early on and prevent further deterioration of your hearing abilities.

South County Hearing: Audiology Clinic in Narragansett, RI

South County Hearing offers personalized hearing care and guidance to improve your hearing and communication so you can reconnect with people and events that matter most. Our audiologists perform hearing tests, hearing aid fitting, and many other audiology services to address a wide range of hearing needs.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation!

Learn more about how we can help.

We offer solutions that include hearing aids, assistive devices, aural rehabilitation, tinnitus treatment, and custom hearing protection.