What is an Audiologist?

Nikki Roxburgh - 28 February 2015

An audiologist is a healthcare professional specialising in identifying, diagnosing, treating, and monitoring disorders of the auditory and vestibular systems of the ear. Audiologists are trained to diagnose, manage, and/or treat hearing, tinnitus or balance problems. Audiologists must have a a master’s degree to practice in the field. 

An audiologist can provide answers to questions like these:

• What do you do when you find out that you or a loved one has a hearing loss?

• Who do I turn to for quality hearing health care? • Can my hearing loss be helped with hearing aids?

• What are the different types of hearing loss?

• What can I do about the ringing in my ears (tinnitus)? 

An audiologist is the professional who specialises in evaluating and treating people with hearing loss. They have extensive training and skills in evaluating the hearing of adults, infants, and children of all ages. Audiologists conduct a wide variety of tests to determine the exact nature of an individual’s hearing problem, and they present an array of treatment options to patients with hearing impairment. They dispense and fit hearing aids, administer tests of balance to evaluate dizziness, and provide hearing-rehabilitation training. Audiologists refer patients when the hearing problem needs medical or surgical evaluation. 

Why should someone with hearing loss be evaluated by an audiologist?

Audiologists hold master’s degrees from accredited universities with special training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and nonmedical treatment of hearing disorders. They are now required to attend at least a one-year full-time internship before they receive their certificate of clinical practice. By virtue of their graduate education, professional certification, and internship, audiologists are the most qualified professionals to perform hearing tests, refer patients for medical treatment, and provide hearing-rehabilitation services.

What do audiologists do?

Audiologists perform comprehensive diagnostic hearing tests. They use specialised 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, perform earwax removal if necessary, conduct diagnostic audiological tests, and check for medically related hearing problems.

Hearing loss is caused by medical problems about 10% of the time. Audiologists are educated and trained to recognize these medical problems and refer patients to ear, nose, and throat physicians (ENTs; also known as otolaryngologists) if necessary. ENTs cannot medically or surgically treat 90% of hearing loss cases. 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.