Audiologists are hearing and balance healthcare professionals. They evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage a variety of hearing and balance related difficulties. Prevention, education, evaluation, identification, and rehabilitation of hearing loss and balance disorders are provided. Education of the community in regards to hearing health, balance health, assessment and rehabilitation options is often available from your local professional.
These hearing and balance healthcare professionals are required to be greatly educated with the successful completion of a master’s degree in Audiology, a Doctorate of Audiology (Au.D.), or a Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Sciences and Disorders. As of 2007, all new Audiologists must hold an Au.D. in order to practice Audiology. With this new requirement come greater in-depth education and more varied clinical experience prior to practice.
Where can you find a professional? In a number of settings! These professionals work in a variety of venues, including: Otolaryngology (ENT) clinics, other physician offices, public/private school systems, University and college clinics, private practice clinics, hospitals, public health departments, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.
If you or a family member suspect any issues with your hearing, including: decreased hearing sensitivity, fluctuating hearing ability, sound in the ears (tinnitus) or sudden hearing loss, you should contact your local provider for an appointment as soon as possible. If you are experiencing dizziness or balance issues, including lightheadedness, vertigo (room spinning), feeling off-balanced or dizzy, make an appointment very soon. Diagnosis leads to treatment.
So you have an appointment, now what happens? A thorough medical history, hearing health and balance history will be discussed. Your provider will then determine what tests are needed to make a diagnosis of your difficulties. Below are some of the possible tests that could be completed at your appointment.
• Otoscopy – Magnified inspection of your outer ear and ear canal
• Tympanometry – Objective testing of your middle ear system
• Otoacoustic Emissions – Objective testing of your inner ear (cochlea)
• Pure-tone audiometry – Behavioral evaluation of your hearing status
• Evoked Potentials testing – Objective evaluation of your hearing system
If following your hearing testing, treatment and management is necessary, the following may be provided:
o Prescription, fitting, and orientation of hearing aids or other assistive listening devices
o Cochlear implant mapping
o Hearing conservation plans
o Rehabilitation programs
o Auditory processing disorder (APD) therapies
• Vestibular evaluations evaluate your balance system in a variety of ways. For some tests you will be an inactive participant, lying or sitting still while relaxing. Others will require more active participation with you moving to a variety of positions (e.g., sitting, lying, or standing). If you have any back or neck issues, let your provider know prior to testing. These evaluations may include the following:
o Electronystagmography (ENG) testing
o Electrocochleography (ECochG) testing
o Fistula Testing
o Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) Testing
o Rotational chair testing
o Vestibular Evoked Myogenic Potential testing
Therapy or recommendation of medical management for dizziness and balance difficulties will be made as necessary following evaluation.
If you suspect you or a family member are having any hearing or balance related issues, call your audiologist for an appointment today!
Dr. Robin A. Pape, Au.D. Board Certified in Audiology AccuHear is a family-owned hearing center. We embrace and successfully solve even the most challenging of cases. Robin lives in Spring Hill with her husband, Paul and in her spare time, enjoys spending time with friends and family. Visit our blog to stay updated about the latest hearing aid technology