The Role of Audiologists in Evaluating Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
Hearing and balance disorders are complex because they lead to many medical, physical, psychological, social, employment and educational implications. Here where the role of audiologists becomes very useful. They provide professional and personalized services that help to minimize the negative impacts of these disorders, leading to a better quality of life and improved outcomes.
Who are audiologists?
Audiologists are health care professionals that use technology, knowledge, creative problem solving, and social skills to identify and treat hearing, tinnitus, hearing balance and many other auditory disorders. They work with patients to diagnose the condition and offer the convenient treatment tailored to their needs.
We always see people visiting dentists, opticians and doctors in order to get their health checked. However, we rarely see people talking about audiologists and visiting them. They have a major role in maintaining a healthy body because they take care of one of the most important senses, our ears.
They have training in:
Physiology and anatomy
They cope with hearing loss balance, hearing loss and tinnitus for all ages, starting from infants, teens, adults and old people. They deal with:
Sensorineural hearing loss
Hidden hearing loss
Noise-induced hearing loss
Auditory Processing Disorders
Certain symptoms like vertigo, ear inflammations, heart conditions, head injuries, motion, ear infections, acoustic neuroma and many others
We can find audiologists in:
Universities and colleges
Community health services
Hearing aid manufacturers
If you are looking for qualified audiologists, there is a list of best audiologists in Sharjah who offer all audiological examinations using modern technologies.
What is the role of audiologists?
There are numerous roles that audiologists can execute:
Knowledge and Skills
Identification and assessment
Identify and diagnose disorders of hearing, balance and tinnitus.
Counsel patients about their hearing health and all the possible needs for treatment and management of their condition.
Give advice on the suitable hearing aids to be used and recommend specific hearing aid selection.
Provide fitting, programming and audiologic rehabilitation to ensure the patient is getting all the help needed to adapt to their condition.
Conduct newborn hearing screening programs
Manage and evaluate children and adults with central auditory processing disorders.
Management and Treatment
Perform otoscopic examination of the ear drum and ear canals.
Manage the removal of excessive cerumen.
Recommend hearing assistive technology systems (HATS)
Provide audiologic rehabilitation: speech reading, communication management, auditory skill development, and language development.
Perform assessment of tinnitus and advice on all the solutions and actions that can be taken to reduce its symptoms.
Prevention and Education
Educate patients and their families on the psychological adjustments of hearing loss and tinnitus.
Collaborate with educators regarding educational implications of hearing loss, communication management, educational programming, classroom acoustics, and large area amplification systems designed for children with hearing loss.
Educate the public on the importance of preventing and managing hearing loss and tinnitus.
Consult about the accessibility for those who suffer from hearing loss in public and private buildings, services and programs.
When should you seek an audiologist?
There are specific signs that request the need to ask for an audiologist. These signs are:
Asking people to repeat the conversation or what they were saying
Turning up the sound of the radio or TV
Having difficulty hearing people on the phone
Your child talking differently from their peers
Your child struggling with schoolwork
Avoiding social surroundings
Generating a lot of earwax
Hearing sounds in your ears, known as tinnitus
How can they help to evaluate hearing loss and tinnitus?
Hearing loss is caused by several health conditions, mostly by the exposure to loud noises. Loud sounds reach the inner ear and damage the tiny cells that are lining this fluid-filled chamber.
Tinnitus is referred to as ringing in the ears or other sounds that no one hears except you. These sounds might seem like hissing, clicking, roaring, whistling, humming, buzzing and many others. You may hear these phantom sounds in your head and in one ear or both. It is often caused by underlying issues such as hearing loss, impacted earwax or ear infections.
If you suffer from tinnitus, your audiologist can help you find the source of your tinnitus and overcome it through different treatments. If it cannot be treated, your audiologist will help you mask its symptoms and train your ears to gradually ignore it.
When hearing loss or tinnitus is suspected, the audiologist will perform specific diagnostic tests to define the scope of the problem and suggest all the solutions available.
In the case of children, the role of the audiologist is extremely important because young children will not provide reliable information about their history and condition. This forces the audiologist to be exceptionally skilled and professional in order to assess the condition efficiently. They have to have also the ability to comfort the child and put their parents at ease while dealing with the different questions and concerns that they might have.
There are certain human skills that help audiologists do their job perfectly. Some are:
They need to show patience and understanding. There are many patients who might be struggling with their diagnosis and not accepting their current situation. They might not be responding well to their treatment. Here where the audiologist can be a great help in comforting them and showing them the right steps towards achieving the goal of leading a normal life.
They need to have time management. Managing their time and their patients’ time through right appointments allow to have a better diagnosis and treatment plan.
They should have good communication skills, especially when dealing with patients and their families. Having such skills help them when they have to explain complex information to the patient in a way that is easy for them to digest. These skills will also help them communicate with other health professionals at all different levels.
Hearing tests audiologist undergo to evaluate tinnitus and hearing loss
There are several hearing tests that audiologists use in order to check the hearing of the patient. They include:
Ear/physical examination, referred to as otoscopy
They check for any physical problem in the ear drum or ear canal.
This test helps the audiologist to find out the quietest sounds you are able to hear at each different pitch.
Patients use earphones or headphones.
The result is shown on an audiogram.
Bone conduction testing
If you have any fluid or wax blocking the middle or outer ear, this test will show it. It is also an indication if you have hearing loss in the sensory cells of hearing.
This test is used to see if you understand speech. It comprises listening to and repeating certain words.
Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
When audiologist can’t perform the pure-tone test, they use this test.
It shows how the cochlea and the brain pathways responsible for hearing work. In simpler words, it measures the brain’s response to sound.
When infants and children are unable to respond or react to the normal behavioral hearing tests due to their age, this test is used.
Audiologists remind us to prioritize our ear health. They improve our involvement in life. They can help in numerous ways to give us a better quality of life with healthy ears. It is very important to visit them regularly as often as you visit the optician or the dentist!