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What does an Audiologist Do?
You may have heard the term “audiologist” from time to time throughout your life. But what does an audiologist actually do? How can they help you? And what makes them different from other healthcare professionals?
Audiologists are people with expertise on matters related to hearing and the ears. All audiologists in the United States must hold a Masters in Audiology and must pass certifying exams. Audiologists are different from other hearing health professionals, including hearing instrument specialists, because they have more training and can deal with a variety of complex hearing issues, such as those that affect young children.
Take a look at the following ways that audiologists can help treat your hearing loss.
Provide you with hearing tests
One of the main jobs of an audiologist is to carry out hearing tests. Hearing tests involve a battery of tests designed to determine the nature and extent of your hearing loss.
There are many types of hearing loss. Some are age-related while others have to do with physical impediments that may be affecting your ability to detect sounds, such as impacted wax on your eardrum.
During the hearing test, you’ll sit in a noise-canceling booth, put on a pair of headphones, and listen to sounds of varying pitch and volume. Audiologists use these sounds to build a profile of your hearing loss, finding out where you’re struggling most, and gathering relevant information that will later help them calibrate hearing aids (if applicable).
Talk to you about your lifestyle
Audiologists do a lot of fact-finding: they want to find out why you might not be able to hear as well as you used to. Part of this process involves asking a lot of questions about your lifestyle and medical history. Your hearing loss, for instance, might be caused by certain medications you take, something which your audiologist will want to rule out. Your hearing loss could also result from trauma or a condition unrelated to your ears (such as a problem with the auditory processing center of the brain).
If your audiologist suspects that your hearing loss might have environmental origins, they could ask you about how you live your life. Listening to loud music and working in noisy workplaces can both have an adverse effect on your hearing over the long term.
Perform visual examinations
Physical problems with the ear can cause hearing loss. Audiologists, therefore, perform visual examinations to check for things like earwax blockages and perforated eardrums. During your hearing test, your audiologist may use a special tool to peer inside your ear and check that the outer ear is healthy. They may also check your neck and jaw area.
Treat balance problems
The inner ear provides people with their sense of balance. Sometimes, however, this system can malfunction, making it hard to remain upright in all situations and lead to secondary conditions, like vertigo. Audiologists have expertise in both dizziness and balancing conditions and offer a range of balance tests designed to determine what kind of balance issues you have and what treatment you may need.
Sometimes, audiologists will recommend that you take certain medicines or, in rare cases, opt for surgery. However, these interventions may not deal with the balance problem. Audiologists, therefore, are also trained in vestibular rehabilitation, a type of therapy that provides exercise to help you feel less dizzy in your day to day life.
Tinnitus is a debilitating condition characterized by a persistent noise in the ears that is not generated by an external source. People who have tinnitus complain of hearing ringing, buzzing, whirring, and rasping sounds for a substantial portion of the time that they are awake.
Tinnitus is often associated with hearing loss. People in the early to middle stages of hearing loss can develop the condition if insufficient auditory stimulation is coming through the ears.
Audiologists help patients to treat their tinnitus in several ways. The most common intervention is to offer hearing aids as these help to restore sensory signals and reestablish stimulation of the brain’s sound processing center. Audiologists may also recommend cognitive behavioral therapy to help you change how you feel about your tinnitus.
Provide hearing aid fittings
Choosing a hearing aid can be a complicated process for people new to the market. Audiologists help you both select and calibrate hearing aids, depending on your lifestyle, personal preferences, and the nature of your hearing loss.
If you want to learn more about what audiologists do and how they can help you, call The Hearing Clinic at Woodlake on 612-200-8414 to find out more.