What Is An Audiologist?

An audiologist is a healthcare professional, specializing in prevention, assessment, and non-medical management of hearing disorders. An audiologist is a practitioner who meets the state's qualifications to practice clinical audiology, which is the application of scientific principles, methods and procedures for measurement, testing, appraisal, prediction, consultation, counseling, habilitation, rehabilitation, or instruction related to disorders of the hearing and balance systems relating to hearing loss.

girl with headset

Audiologists are qualified to assess and treat infants, children and adults. In addition to diagnosis and treatment, audiologists also provide counseling, education and training so that individuals with a hearing impairment or balance disorder can benefit from amplification and communication devices and/or other forms of treatment.

Audiologists also engage in a wide variety of research activities to develop new hearing assessment techniques and new rehabilitative technologies, particularly in the area of hearing aids. Research reports of audiologists can be found in the professional literature of medical and scientific journals.

Audiologists are highly trained healthcare professionals. In fact, they are the only professionals who are university trained and licensed to specifically identify, evaluate, diagnose, and treat audiologic disorders of hearing. Today, a doctorate (Au.D.) degree is required to become an audiologist.

Audiologists use specialized equipment and procedures to accurately test for 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 cerumen (ear wax) removal, conduct diagnostic audiologic and vestibular tests, and check for medically-related hearing problems. By virtue of their education, training, and licensing, they are the most qualified professionals to assess and treat hearing and balance disorders.

elderly woman with pencil Your audiologist can advise you if hearing aids are recommended for your hearing loss. It is important to remember that hearing aids alone may not be an instant answer to your hearing problems. They are just a part of the treatment process, which should also include the comprehensive testing, careful counseling, instruction and follow-up that an audiologist will provide. It takes time to adjust to hearing aids, and without expert counseling from an audiologist before and after you obtain hearing aids, successful rehabilitation is far less likely.

In addition to hearing disorders, audiologists are able to assess and treat balance system dysfunctions. Audiologists are trained to perform detailed evaluations of balance and equilibrium. They participate as full members of vestibular rehabilitation teams to recommend and carry out goals of vestibular rehabilitation therapy including, for example, habituation exercises, balance retraining exercises, and general conditioning exercises.

Audiologists are also experts in hearing loss prevention and are able to provide counseling and resources to help prevent noise induced hearing loss and raise awareness about the danger of ototoxic substances.

Printed with permission from:
ADA