Audiology is the study and science of hearing and balance. The profession of audiology encompasses the following services, which can have a significant impact on communication, mobility and quality of life.
- Hearing loss and falls prevention
- Adult and pediatric diagnostic hearing screenings and assessments
- Balance/vestibular assessment and rehabilitation
- Tinnitus/hyperacusis/misophonia evaluation and management
- Hearing aids/amplification and assistive technology evaluation, fitting, and management
- Implantable technology evaluation, programming and management, such as cochlear implants and auditory osseointegrated devices
- Cerumen removal and management
- Hearing and ear protection
- Industrial hearing assessment, prevention, and protection programs
- Auditory processing evaluation and management
- Auditory rehabilitation, training, and counseling
The Differences Between Audiologists, Otolaryngologists (ENTs), and Hearing Aid Dispensers
Audiologists are state licensed healthcare providers who evaluate and manage hearing and balance symptoms and disorders, including hearing loss. An audiologist has a minimum of a four year undergraduate degree as well as a Master’s and/or a doctoral (AuD, PhD, EdD, or ScD) degree.
Otolaryngologists (ENTs) are state licensed medical professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and medical, surgical and pharmacological (drug) management of ear, nose, and throat conditions, including hearing and balance disorders. An otolaryngologist has a minimum an audiologist has a minimum of a four year undergraduate degree as well as a medical degree (MD) and a residency training program specific to ear, nose, and throat evaluation and management.
Approximately 10% of hearing and balance disorders have medical, pharmacological or surgical treatment options or solutions. This is where audiology comes into the equation and where an audiologist can be valuable to consumers in addressing their communication and balance issues and improving their quality of life.
Hearing aid dispensers (hearing instrument specialists) are state licensed providers of hearing aids and the basic hearing testing required to select and fit hearing aids. Hearing aid dispenser training and licensure requirements vary greatly state by state. In most states, a hearing aid dispenser must have be 18 years of age, have a high school diploma, and pass a written examination to obtain a license. In most states, a hearing aid dispenser cannot evaluate or treat tinnitus, provide cerumen management, or provide aural rehabilitation.