Audiologist Resource Guide
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Audiologist Resource Guide

Eagle Hearing

What is an Audiologist?

An audiologist is defined by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) as an expert "who can help to prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing and balance disorders for people of all ages." Audiologists are trained to perform several diagnostic procedures to determine the root cause of a hearing/imbalance issue and make appropriate recommendations on how best to treat the problem.

Audiologists May Perform the Following Services

  • Diagnose and treat hearing and balance disorders
  • Select and customize hearing aids and other forms of hearing-assistive technology for their clients
  • Screen and test individuals for hearing disorders
  • Provide advice on how to protect hearing (e.g. from loud or constant noise)
  • Provide guidance on how to effectively treat or cope with tinnitus (ringing in the ears)

What Are the Qualifications of an Audiologist?

Audiologists must first earn a bachelor's degree in any field. Then, they must enter a doctoral program, which will typically last 4 years. Accredited programs offer a doctorate of audiology degree, or Au.D. The curriculum taught in accredited audiology programs is consistent from one course to another. The curriculum includes coverage of:

  • Normal and abnormal development of communication skills
  • Genetics and genetic markers for hearing/imbalance issues
  • Pharmacology
  • Ethics
  • Amplification
  • Vestibular
  • Comprehensive classroom instruction
  • upervised clinical instruction and training

Are Audiologists Considered Medical Doctors?

Technically, the answer is no. However, audiologists can receive their Doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.), or "a Master's or Doctoral degree from an accredited university graduate program in audiology," per the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA). Thus, audiologists can play a key role in identifying hard-to-diagnose hearing and balance disorders and supplement the efforts and treatment recommendations of attending physicians, ENT doctors, or other specialists.


What is the Difference Between an Audiologist, and an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor?

With changes in hearing, it may be confusing to know who you should make an appointment with first -- an Audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor. Both may be beneficial, but their training is vastly different. Knowing who you should see based on what you are experiencing is key to getting the help you need in a timely manner. So, what is the difference between an Audiologist and an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor?

Audiologist

An Audiologist is a trained specialist with either a master's or doctoral degree, who specializes in all areas of hearing, including hearing loss, balance issues, and tinnitus, for both adults and children. Your Audiologist is the one who will evaluate, diagnose, and manage all your hearing-related conditions. If hearing loss is found, your Audiologist can also determine if hearing aids or other amplification aids are an option for you. They manage your care and will refer you to an ENT doctor if they determine that to be the best path for you based on your condition.

ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Doctor

An Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor, or Otorhinolaryngologist, is a medical doctor who treats disorders of the ears, nose, and throat. The ENT Doctor can recommend medical and surgical treatments for hearing-related conditions, including ruptured eardrums, tumors, and infections. Generally, ENT doctors do not treat hearing loss unless it is related to a medical condition.

For comprehensive care, an Audiologist is your best choice when it comes to the health of your hearing. Due to their advanced training, Audiologists are able to evaluate, diagnose and direct your care, whatever that may entail. If you are experiencing any type of hearing loss or balance issue, make an appointment today with one of our family-friendly Audiologists. We'll put you on the right track to your best hearing health.


What Ages Do Audiologists Provide Testing For?

Audiologists can perform testing at any age. Although people don't consider a visit to the hearing doctor unless there is a problem; checking up on your hearing and scheduling a visit with an audiologist is beneficial at any age.

Infants

The majority of newborns receive a hearing screening while still in the hospital or birthing center. Depending on the results of the screening they may be referred to an Audiologist for further, more in-depth testing. It is imperative that infants be screened soon after birth. This is because by 6 months of age babies begin to develop language and speech. If they have any hearing impairments, early detection and intervention can help them succeed in their development of language.

Children

Luckily, most hearing difficulties are detected early due to infant screening, however, children can develop or begin to show symptoms of hearing loss as they get older due to various reasons. If at any point a child is showing symptoms that indicate issues with their hearing, it is important they are seen by an audiologist for testing as soon as possible. Early intervention is key to help children with hearing loss succeed in their development.

Adults

It is recommended that all adults get a hearing test at least once after age 21 and then every 10 years thereafter until the age of 50. After 50, you should be tested every 3 years, even if you do not feel you are experiencing hearing loss.

Eventually, adults and seniors begin to feel a decline in their hearing abilities. Testing by an audiologist will help to diagnose hearing loss and, if necessary, they can assist in the fitting of hearing aids. There are also instances when a person may have concerns that are not necessarily hearing loss but hearing related. Examples of such would be Tinnitus, Dizziness, and Balance issues; an audiologist can assist with the management of these hearing-related concerns.


When Should You Make an Appointment with an Audiologist?

The following are common reasons why you might need to schedule an appointment with an audiologist:

Tinnitus

If you are hearing a constant ringing, humming, or clicking sound in your head, you may have a condition known as Tinnitus. Common causes for tinnitus are noise exposure, hearing loss, medication, and medical conditions such as Eustachian Tube Dysfunction.

Difficulty Hearing

If you frequently ask people to repeat themselves, feel confused during conversations, and have had family and friends comment that you didn't hear them you are likely experiencing hearing loss.

Hypersensitivity to Sound/Need for Increased Volume

If you find yourself having to turn up the TV or Radio volume and others in the room complain that it is too loud, you might be experiencing hearing loss.

Socially Reclusive

If you avoid social interactions because you usually feel misunderstood or are unresponsive to what others are communicating, then you might have a hearing loss problem.

Ear Wax Removal

Ear wax, or cerumen, removal can lead to ear blockage. For ear wax removal and treatment of blocked ears, you can visit an ENT or your PCP. An Audiologist is also able to remove excess ear wax and offer treatment but oftentimes may refer you if needed.

Presbycusis

As you grow older it is important to visit an audiologist who can monitor for any hearing loss and ease the transition to hearing aids when needed.

Exposure to High Noise Levels

An audiologist can discuss the prevention of hearing loss if you are exposed to loud noises through work (such as machinery or loud vehicles) or through hobbies (like shooting and attending concerts). They can also provide treatment if the damage is already done.

Co-Occurring Medical Conditions

Hearing loss can co-occur with other conditions like depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, and dementia.

Balance Issues

Inflammation or infection of the inner ear can cause a problem in maintaining balance.

Hearing Is Screened by School or Employer and the Results Warrant A Follow Up With An Audiologist

Employees' hearing levels can be tested either as a legal obligation or employers can safeguard themselves from legal action in case their employees develop hearing loss problems due to the nature of the job. Young children can also be assessed if they seem to have hearing problems.


What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of an Audiologist?

About 15% of American adults have reported trouble hearing. In fact, every one in eight people in the United States aged 12 or older has hearing loss in both ears. As such, hearing loss is extremely common in the United States.

If you haven't experienced hearing loss yet, it's possible that you or a loved one will experience it in the future. Since 90 percent of all deaf children are born to hearing parents, you may even have a deaf child. Which is all the more reason to see an audiologist sooner rather than later.

Roles and Responsibilities

An audiologist is a health care professional who treats and diagnoses auditory disorders. They're experts at using technology to deal with all kinds of hearing and balance issues. It is an audiologist's responsibility to:

  • Show cultural competence, compassion, and concern for patients.
  • Encourage the involvement of family members in the plan of care.
  • Advocate for the rights of individuals who need audiological services and promote the value of said services.
  • Collaborate with interdisciplinary teams to provide specialized care for the patient.

Audiology Services

Each audiologist can offer a wide range of services. These services are for patients who need their hearing issues evaluated, diagnosed or treated. They also treat patients who are experiencing difficulties with their balancing. Their services include:

Hearing Tests

An audiologist can evaluate your outer, middle, and inner ear to determine if you're experiencing hearing loss. These tests can also be issued to your children.

Prescribing Hearing Aids

Most audiologists work with major hearing aid manufacturers to provide affordable hearing aids to those who need them.

Providing Education And Counseling

Audiologists are more than willing to help patients, families, and caregivers adjust to their loss of hearing and all the ways that it could affect their relationships. Audiologists will also be happy to educate them about tinnitus and the ways to prevent hearing loss.


How Do You Choose the Best Audiologist?

Choosing an Audiologist that is a good fit for you and your needs is important; take some time to do some research before making your final choice. Here are some helpful tips and some considerations to make when deciding on an Audiologist that is right for you:

Services Offered

Double-check the Audiologist you are considering provides the services you need. Visit their website for their practice and if you have specific questions give them a call or send them a message. Although all Audiologists treat hearing loss; there are Audiologists that specialize in pediatric care, therapy for tinnitus, and treating balance and vestibular disorders.

Referrals

Word of mouth is the most reliable when looking for referrals for services. Ask your family and friends about their experiences; chances are they will have a positive recommendation from someone they are currently seeing or have dealt with in the past.

Proximity to your Home

It is preferred when possible to choose an Audiologist that is close to where you live. Often times you will have to return to your Audiologist's office for follow up visits, further testing, and fittings for hearing aids. It is easier and convenient to schedule your appointments when you are nearby.

Office Schedule

Ask about the office's business hours and appointment times available to make sure you can be accommodated.

Reviews

It is easier than ever to look up reviews for professionals on the internet. To find reviews for Audiologists near you, use sites such as Google or Yelp to look up reviews and past experiences from patients for many Audiologists near you.

Make Your Appointment

Finding the right Audiologist for you from the start will save you time, money, and headaches. Take the moment to research, ask questions, and address any concerns you may have before making a final selection, this will help to ensure that you will have a positive experience with your Audiologist.


What Types of Tests Does an Audiologist Perform?

An Audiologist will evaluate and help manage hearing loss issues and disorders in children and adults. An audiologist uses a variety of tests to assist in the evaluation of hearing impairment and whether any balance concerns are associated with your ears.

Audiometry

An audiometry test will present different tones testing specific frequencies and decibels to determine the softest sounds a person can hear. During the exam, you will hear different ranges of pitches and frequencies to determine your ability to hear differing sounds.

Tympanometry

A Tympanometry exam is not a test where you will be asked to hear anything. It is when an Audiologist does a visual examination with a scope, and then a small rubber device will be inserted into your ear which then blows air into your ear to measure the movement of your eardrums under different pressure changes. This pressure test allows us to determine the eardrum mobility. Abnormal results of this test may indicate an issue in the structure of your middle ear system.

Otoacoustic Emissions (DPOAE AND TEOAE)

There are 2 different types of OAE tests, a Transient Evoked Otoacoustic Emission; where you will hear short bursts or tones and a Distortion Product Otoacoustic Emissions where you will hear the tones at differing frequencies simultaneously. During this testing, you will hear sounds but you will not be asked to speak, the probe inserted into the ear will be measuring the results. This test's purpose is to evaluate inner ear function (outer hair cell). Anyone experiencing significant hearing loss will result in abnormal findings in this examination.

Acoustic Reflex and Decay

During this testing, a device will measure the muscle contractions within your middle ear in response to differing levels of sounds. This allows us to access auditory neuron pathways.

Auditory Brainstem Response Testing (Neuro-Diagnostic or Threshold)

During this testing, electrodes will be placed on your head to measure brain wave activity in response to certain sounds. You will hear sounds but you will not be asked to speak. This testing is common in babies and young children who cannot yet communicate sufficiently for a hearing screening.

Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential (VEMP)

This testing is used for patients suffering from dizziness or balance issues. During VEMP testing electrodes will be placed on your head and neck to check if your inferior vestibular nerve and saccule are working properly.

Electrocochleography (ECOCHG)

During this testing, an electrode is placed on your forehead and a device is placed into your ear canals. You will not be asked to speak during this exam and it will measure electric potentials generated in the cochlea in response to audio stimulation. This testing is generally used to determine if a patient has Meniere's disease.


How Can You Prepare for a Visit to An Audiologist?

Going to an audiologist for the first time can feel somewhat overwhelming. However, if you use this resource guide, you will know everything you can expect before, during after your visit. Here are some tips for making your appointment to a hearing doctor go as smoothly as possible:

Write Down Your Medical History

Regardless of your reason for visiting an audiologist, you will be asked about your medical history. Unfortunately, it is incredibly easy to forget. Mitigate your risk of potential embarrassment by writing down your medical history. This way, you won't be stressed and you won't forget any potentially crucial details in the moment.

Complete Case History Form

So that we can provide you with the best level of care, please fill out the Hearing History Case History Form and make sure to bring it to your appointment. If you don't get it filled out beforehand, please arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment for paperwork.

You may also benefit from filling out the Self-Assessment of Communication Form which can be found here.

Write Down Questions

To get the most out of your visit to the audiologist, write down a few important questions. For most people, the most important questions to ask are:

  • What is my primary problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • Why is it important that we treat the problem that way?
  • Ask a Loved One to Accompany You

Most people like to take notes during their visit to an audiologist. However, if your hearing is impaired, you might want to bring a friend, partner or family member with you to help you take more complete notes.

Bring a List of All Current Medications

Hearing loss is a side effect of certain medications. For a quick, accurate diagnosis, bring in a complete list of the medications you are currently taking.


What Should You Expect to Happen at Your First Appointment with An Audiologist?

In case you have never visited an audiologist and have ear problems, or you want to know if your hearing is good, what should you expect in your first appointment? An audiologist diagnoses and treats ear disorders and hearing loss. They also recommend various ways you can take better care of your ears to avoid damage. An appointment can take an hour or so depending on the problem. Hearing tests take about half an hour.

What To Expect In Your First Audiologist Appointment?

An audiologist will access your ear problem based on the following:

Medical History

An audiologist needs to have a comprehensive background of your medical history. For instance, genetic conditions that could lead to a hearing problem, diabetes, or if you have been under treatment whereby you were prescribed drugs that could have contributed to your ear problem.

Hearing Tests

If you have been experiencing hearing loss, an audiologist may perform a hearing screening to determine how well you hear different sounds. They may then recommend an evaluation immediately if you fail the screening test.

They may also perform the following hearing tests to assess the physical condition of the ear:

  • Tympanometry: It is a test performed to determine if the middle ear is properly functioning.
  • Audiometry: This is a test conducted to assess the function of the inner ear to determine if there is sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Otoscopy: This is a procedure that is necessary for a clear diagnosis of the Ear Nose and Throat. It involves examining the ear canal, specifically the tympanic membrane.

Diagnosis

After a comprehensive understanding of your medical history, hearing habits and environment that could have contributed to your hearing problem, an audiologist will know the next course of action. Be it hearing therapy or treatment depending on the degree of the hearing problem. Furthermore, with the necessary hearing tests, they can make an accurate diagnosis of your problem.

Don't make an appointment with an audiologist only when you have an emergency. It is important to get regular ear checks to detect problems or disorders that can be treated or managed on time.


The Benefits of The Continued Care By An Audiologist

How Often Should You See an Audiologist?

A visit to the audiologist should be regular. An annual exam is necessary if you wear a hearing aid or have consistent ear problems. A checkup involves ear screening and ear exams and is essential to determine the physical condition of your ears and your hearing ability.

Ear Screening

A newborn's ears are screened to identify if they are hard of hearing or deaf for necessary intervention. Children too should get ear screening. An adult should get an evaluation once every ten years until they are 50. After the age of 50, it should be more regular at least once every three years. If one fails they get an evaluation, so they can be tested further to see if they have hearing loss.

Ear Exams

Hearing tests are conducted to determine how well the ear is functioning and if there is any infection or obstruction.

The Benefits of Regularly Seeing An Audiologist

A visit to the audiologist should be regular. An annual exam is necessary if you wear a hearing aid or have consistent ear problems. A checkup involves ear screening and ear exams and is essential to determine the physical condition of your ears and your hearing ability.

Prevention of Ear Damage

Regular checkups can help detect ear problems or abnormalities on time, therefore, preventing ear damage.

Removal of wax build-up

Ears naturally cleanse themselves. But in case of excess wax, an audiologist can remove the wax build-up or prescribe the right product to remove the wax.

Maintenance

If you wear hearing aids, they need to be maintained. If you have a problem with feedback, you can consult an audiologist to determine the problem. They can also adjust the settings of your device if need be.

Consultation

An audiologist will not only treat you but give you professional advice on how best to take care of your ears to prevent damage further damage.

Why Is It Beneficial to Return To The Same Audiologist?

It is important to visit the same audiologist as they will have a better understanding of your medical history and can make a more accurate diagnosis saving you on time and money. The more you interact with them, the more they will be better placed to know the habits you need to change to keep your ears healthy.


Are You Ready to Make an Audiology Appointment?

Having knowledge of the many factors that contribute to a diagnosis is critical to a successful outcome. At Eagle Hearing, we take the time needed for each individual. If you are having issues with your hearing, contact Eagle Hearing, Idaho's Preferred Audiology and Hearing Aid Clinic. Our expert audiology staff is here to guide you through the process of improving your hearing.