An audiologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect hearing. A hearing loss or disorder may also impact speech and balance. Before visiting an audiologist, here are several terms that may be important to know.
Hearing Aid – A device that is inserted into the ear, or behind the ear, to amplify sound, helping the wearer to hear better. Most hearing aids now incorporate digital technology, and can be tuned specifically to the needs of the wearer.
Tinnitus – Tinnitus refers to a ringing in the ears, which may be a symptom of other hearing damage, or can occur as the result of an injury or taking certain medications.
Cochlear Implant – A cochlear implant can provide a semblance of hearing to the deaf or those who are severely hard of hearing. It is an electronic device that contains a microphone, a speech processor and a transmitter, that works by stimulating the auditory nerve in the inner ear.
Auditory Processing Disorder – A condition that makes it difficult for a person to understand what they hear, despite having normal hearing sensitivity. It is a neurological condition that may cause other symptoms beyond hearing damage.
Vestibular System – Located in the inner ear, the vestibular system helps a person to maintain their balance and posture. An audiologist treats several disorders that can affect the vestibular system, and cause such health problems as dizziness, vertigo and motion sickness.
Speech Pathology – Many patients with hearing damage also suffer from speech difficulties. Speech-language pathology specializes in speech disorders.
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Audiologists are trained health care professionals who evaluate hearing impairment and other disorders such as tinnitus and otitis. They can perform fittings for hearing aids and listening devices, as well as perform newborn hearing screening. They are dedicated to hearing conservation and can offer advice and information on audio health, hearing loss, and deafness. Audiologists can work in a private practice, medical center, school, or nursing home facility.
Those interested in finding a qualified audiologist can get a referral from their primary care doctor, or even their child's school nurse. Such professionals should be skilled in evaluating and treating conductive hearing loss, deafness, neuropathy, and vestibular rehabilitation. They may also have specialties in areas like sensorineural hearing loss and aural rehabilitation.
Community resources exist for helping the deaf, offering information and services for deaf people, including how audiologists can help with deafness and hearing loss. Audiologists can also work with people who can hear, but not extremely well. There are listening devices available on the market that can be fitted to the ear. Whereas before, hearing aids were cumbersome and obvious, they are now so small they are virtually undetectable.
Audiologists can advise patients on the latest technologies in hearing aids, listening devices, deafness management, rehabilitation methods, and other health information relating to hearing conservation and disorders. People can seek out the services of an audiologist for issues such as sensorineural hearing loss, tinnitus, and screenings for your newborn or child. Audiology professionals can provide fittings, consultations, tests, and ongoing plans for treatment. They will walk patients through the process and let them practice putting on and taking off their new listening devices.
For those looking to become an audiologist, there are many jobs sites out there that you can sign up for, to search for your next audiology career step.