What is an Audiologist?
An Audiologist is a healthcare professional that provides services related to the prevention of hearing loss and the identification, assessment, and treatment of persons with impairment of hearing and/or balance disorders. Currently in the United States, an Audiologist must earn a doctoral level degree (AuD or PhD) from an accredited University in order to practice.
CHI Health audiologists identify, diagnose, treat and monitor disorders of the auditory (hearing) and vestibular system which helps with balance and coordination. They employ various testing strategies to measure hearing loss by determining which portions of hearing (high, middle, or low frequencies) are affected and to what degree. Based on their findings, they dispense and maintain hearing aids. Tinnitus and balance disorder treatment is prescribed based on the testing outcome.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may have a hearing loss and should consider being evaluated by an audiologist:
- Do you experience ringing, roaring, or buzzing in one or both ears?
- Is your television volume louder than others would like?
- Do you often have to ask people to repeat what they have said?
- Does your speech sound muffled or dull?
- Do you have problems listening in noisy environments or in groups?
- Do you have difficulty hearing the doorbell or telephone?
- Do your friends or relatives tell you that you do not seem to hear well?
- Do you frequently complain that others mumble, that speech is not clear, or that you hear only parts of conversations when people are talking?
- Do you find that looking at people when they talk to you makes it easier for you to understand them?
Our Audiologists perform comprehensive hearing evaluations for both pediatric and adult patients. Hearing tests are often ordered during a patient’s visit with an ENT physician, or they may be scheduled directly with an Audiologist. During a hearing test, the patient sits comfortably in a sound treated room and wears headphones. Traditionally, the patient is asked to raise their hand or push a button each time a beep is heard. By doing this, a person’s hearing sensitivity across a wide range of pitches is determined. Another part of the hearing test involves repeating back a list of words, which is important for determining how clearly a person’s ears and brain can process speech information.
When testing a young child’s hearing, the Audiologist must modify the hearing test to the developmental level of the child. The Audiologist may light up a toy every time the child turns their head toward to a sound, or may turn the test into a game by having the child put a peg in a board or dropping a block in the buck each time a sound is heard.
Other tests that we offer include tympanometry, which is a quick and reliable method to assess the movement of the eardrum and pressure of the middle ear space. We also may conduct a test called Otoacoustic Emissions, or OAEs, which assess the function of tiny hair cells within the inner ear.