Audiologists, hearing instrument specialists and ear, nose and throat experts all treat patients with ear or hearing related issues, so how do you know which healthcare professional is right for you?

Choosing an appropriate healthcare provider is vital to getting effective treatment. While you should always be referred to a more suitable doctor if there’s one available, identifying the right type of specialists from the outset can help you to access the treatment you need more quickly.

What does a hearing instrument specialist do?

Typically, hearing instrument specialists carry out audiometric testing to determine which hearing aids are suitable for your needs. By conducting certain tests, a hearing instrument specialist can sell and fit hearing aids to anyone who might need them.

However, hearing instrument specialists aren’t certified to diagnose a patient with hearing loss. While their expertise does enable them to fit hearing aids, their training and certification do not permit them to carry out diagnostic tests or medical exams.

What does an audiologist do?

Specializing in balance disorders as well as hearing issues, audiologists can diagnose a variety of conditions. In addition to carrying out advanced medical tests and delivering accurate diagnoses, an audiologist is also able to provide the appropriate treatment and monitor your condition in the future.

Doctors who specialize in this field undertake advanced study in the form of two degrees, as well as supervised training. Doctors of Audiology are also licensed by the state and have national certification, so there is an extensive and in-depth period of education to become an audiologist.

What does an ENT specialist do?

Doctors who specialize in ear, nose and throat disorders typically diagnose and treat a range of disorders which can affect these areas of the body. As there are a number of illnesses which can impact one or more of these parts of the body, ENT specialists often focus on medical issues which originate in either the ears, nose or throat and which spread or have a secondary effect on the other areas.

ENT experts can provide a range of treatments, but they don’t generally deal with hearing loss. While they may offer surgery for some ear or hearing-related issues, ENT specialists cover a much broader range of issues, as opposed to an audiologist who strictly examines auditory-related conditions.

Why type of healthcare professional should you consult?

Selecting the right healthcare provider is essential to get the treatment you need swiftly. For the vast majority of patients with suspected hearing loss, tinnitus and balance issues, an audiologist will be able to provide the most comprehensive treatment.

Due to their expertise and training, an audiologist is able to conduct a wide range of tests. Depending on your symptoms and concerns, an audiologist may carry out diagnostic hearing tests, balance and dizziness testing, audiological evaluations, hearing loss testing in pediatric patients, as well as tests preceding a tinnitus diagnosis and evaluations for patients who may be experiencing balance issues.

In addition to this, audiologists are qualified to undertake hearing aid consultations and fittings, as well as hearing aid repairs and maintenance. This is, perhaps, the clearest difference between hearing instrument specialists and audiologists. While a hearing instrument specialist is only able to conduct audiometric testing for the purposes of selling and fitting hearing aids, an audiologist is qualified to undertake these tasks, and many, many more.

As audiologists are certified to conduct more extensive testing and deliver diagnoses, they can use their expertise to determine precisely what is causing your hearing loss and which type of treatment or maintenance program will be most effective.

Given their specialism in aural rehabilitation, audiologists may also be able to deliver treatment designed to restore your hearing via auditory training. Depending on the cause your current hearing loss, audiologists can deliver hearing rehabilitation programs and hearing loss prevention treatment to help you maintain your hearing in the future.

Choosing the right hearing specialist

Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is an important first step to getting the treatment you need. Whilst a hearing instrument specialist may be able to provide you with a hearing aid which delivers some degree of amplification, they will not be able to diagnose the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing, nor the cause of it.

It’s advisable, therefore, to consult with an audiologist in order to determine the cause and extent of hearing loss or balance issues. Once a comprehensive diagnosis is in place, your audiologist can offer a wider range of treatments and ensure you have access to the specialist support you may require.

To find out more about audiologists and how we can help, contact Affordable Audiology & Hearing Service today at (920) 267-5220.