This article explores the duties of an audiologist and explains their various responsibilities. Most people only come across an audiologist if they experience hearing problems, so they are often unclear about what an audiologist can offer them.
An audiologist is a health care professional who identifies, assesses and manages issues with hearing, balance and other neural systems. They are trained to diagnose and treat patients with hearing loss, tinnitus and balance difficulties.
What can an audiologist do?
The primary role of an audiologist is to perform tests on people’s hearing via an audiogram and then suggest appropriate treatment for any hearing loss, such as hearing aids. They are trained to fit hearing aids and organise ongoing support and checks.
Audiologists can also offer advice on managing symptoms associated with hearing loss, tinnitus and balance issues.
Where can I see an audiologist?
Audiologists can work in a variety of settings. You can find them in private clinics such as the Hearing Health Hub or hospitals as part of an ENT (Ear, nose, and throat) department.
You can self-refer to a private clinic if you have concerns about your hearing or tinnitus. You may be referred to an ENT clinic by your GP if they feel you need an assessment by an otolaryngologist (ENT Doctor).
Making an appointment to see an audiologist in a clinic is as easy as booking an eye test! Many of us neglect our hearing, yet there are many ways an audiologist can help to improve hearing issues.
Is an audiologist qualified?
While an audiologist is not a doctor, they are licensed, healthcare professionals. They usually have a master’s degree in audiology and often complete a doctorate in their field of speciality.
A qualified audiologist can dispense hearing aids and will be registered on the HCPC website. The HCPC ensures that those registered maintain appropriate training and professional standards.
The British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA) is the professional organisation that acts on behalf of the hearing aid profession in the UK.
What are the primary duties of an audiologist?
It may surprise you to discover the extent of professional help that an audiologist can offer. Their qualifications and professional status mean you can trust their ability to diagnose and suggest treatments for your hearing problems.
Perform a Hearing Test
An audiologist will use an audiogram to carry out a hearing test. The results will be shown in a graph to illustrate the tones and frequencies heard in each ear.
During the test, the audiologist marks the threshold of the patient’s hearing (the levels where the patient can hear). The summary will indicate how a person’s hearing is working with different sounds.
When hearing loss is discovered, the audiologist can explain the nature of the loss and describe possible treatments. In most cases, they will be able to offer appropriate hearing aids to improve hearing quality.
Audiologists are the experts in supporting patients who have had their lives affected by hearing loss. Coming to terms with hearing difficulties can be traumatic as there is still a stigma associated with the condition.
There is a wide variety of hearing aids available, and each offers different benefits. An audiologist is equipped to steer you towards ones that will improve your quality of life according to your individual situation.
Their training and experience allow them to offer solutions and treatments to improve your quality of life. As well as treating and supporting patients with hearing loss, they can advise regarding tinnitus, support with wax build-up or problems with balance.
Discuss Tinnitus Relief
Tinnitus is a stressful condition that can affect every aspect of a patient’s life. Audiologists can carry out assessments to ascertain the extent of the problem and eliminate any underlying conditions.
Whilst there is no cure for tinnitus, they can advise treatments or ways to relieve symptoms and help patients to manage this distressing condition. They can offer sound therapy, relaxation techniques and cognitive behavioural therapy, with some clinics providing tinnitus retraining therapy.
If the tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss, they will suggest appropriate hearing aids that may lessen tinnitus symptoms.
Suggest Helpful Products
Audiologists are familiar with the latest products and technology that can support patients with tinnitus, hearing loss and hearing protection.
It is helpful to discuss your choices and take advice that you can trust regarding trialling various products with so many options available. They can explain the benefits and disadvantages of each product to help you make the right choice.
Dispense Hearing Aids
An audiologist will discuss your options and give you some recommendations tailored to your specific needs before fitting your chosen hearing aids based on the results of your hearing test.
They will usually offer follow-up appointments to check on you, as adjusting to hearing aids can take many months. They will monitor your Rearing progress and ensure you get the best out of your products.
If you suspect you have too much wax, an audiologist is the person to visit. They will safely and professionally remove wax via micro-suction or irrigation.
A build-up of untreated wax is often the cause of tinnitus, recurrent infections, ear pain, dizziness and temporary hearing loss. As ears are so delicate, it is vital to seek only professional help for wax removal.
Support with Balance Issues
Dizziness and problems with balance is a common problem. People often don’t realise that an audiologist is the right professional to offer tests that can determine the underlying cause and assess the severity of the problem.
They may offer a hearing test as inner ear issues often cause balance difficulties. They will then be able to advise on managing or treating your condition.
Audiologists can help you find the right products for hearing protection for sleep, swimming or as sound blocks.
Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, an audiologist can organise custom-fitted devices that will offer superior protection.
If you have a problem with hearing loss, tinnitus or a build-up of wax, get in touch with us at the Hearing Health Hub to see how one of our qualified audiologists can help.