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The Profession of Audiology

What is an audiologist?

Adapted from the American Academy of Audiology

Audiologists are primary hearing health providers. They are professionals who diagnose, treat, and manage individuals with hearing loss or balance problems. Audiologists have a master's or doctoral degree. 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. 

As a primary hearing health provider, audiologists refer patients to physicians when the hearing or balance problem requires medical or surgical evaluation or treatment.

What do audiologists do?

1. Hearing testing

Audiologists use specialized equipment to obtain accurate results about hearing loss. These tests are typically conducted in sound-treated rooms with calibrated equipment. The audiologist is trained to inspect the eardrum with an otoscope, conduct diagnostic audiologic tests, and check for medically-related hearing problems.

Hearing loss is caused by medical problems about 10% of the time. Audiologists are educated to recognize these medical problems and refer patients to ear, nose and throat physicians (otolaryngologists). Most persons with hearing impairment can benefit from the use of hearing aids, and audiologists are knowledgeable about the latest applications of hearing aid technology.

2. Hearing Services & Counseling

Audiologists are vitally concerned that every person, regardless of age, benefit from good hearing. Audiologists offer individual counseling to help those with hearing loss function more effectively in social, educational and occupational environments. It is a fact of life that we lose hearing acuity, as we grow older, and that hearing problems are commonly associated with the elderly.

3. Hearing Aids & Assistive Devices

Audiologists provide complete hearing aid services. They are experts with hearing aids, assistive listening equipment and personal alerting devices. Audiologists provide education and training so that persons with hearing impairment can benefit from amplification. Audiologists use the most advanced computerized procedures to individualize the fitting of hearing aids. Hearing aid options are thoroughly discussed with each patient based upon their individual needs. Audiologists provide careful follow-up care and provide hearing aid accessories.

4. Hearing Services for Infants & Children

Good hearing is essential to the social and intellectual development of infants and young children. Audiologists test hearing and identify hearing loss in children of any age. This includes newborn and infant hearing screening and diagnostic hearing tests with young children. Audiologists provide hearing therapy and fit hearing aids on babies and young children with hearing loss.

5. Services for School Children

Audiologists provide a full range of hearing and rehabilitative hearing services in private and public schools for students in all grades. Such services are essential to the development of speech, language and learning skills in children with hearing problems.

6. Hearing Conservation Programs

Prolonged exposure to loud noise will cause permanent hearing loss. Because audiologists are concerned with the prevention of hearing loss, they are often involved in implementing programs to protect the hearing of individuals who are exposed to noisy industrial and recreational situations.

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