What is an audiologist? Explained by our expert

Author: Rakhee Chandra

Approved by our expert

Hearing Solutions

Rakhee Chandra

Member of Audiology Australia

Rakhee Chandra is an audiologist and her mission is to use better hearing as a vehicle to leave a positive mark on the world we share.

Read her bio

What is an audiologist?

Audiologists are university trained health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders in newborn, children, and adults. Audiologists work with clients to preserve, manage and improve their hearing, their ability to process and understand sounds and their balance.

Audiologist help clients of all ages from infants to older adults and clients with complex hearing needs to improve their ability to communicate and interact in a variety of listening situations.

What does an audiologist do?

Audiologists perform a range of assessments including assess hearing and auditory function, vestibular (balance) function, tinnitus, auditory processing function and neural function. 

Audiologists also prescribe and fit hearing aids, monitor hearing loss, design and implement hearing conservation and newborn hearing screening programs and provide hearing rehabilitation.

Audiologists also have knowledge of implantable devices such as cochlear implants, middle ear implantable hearing aids, bone anchored hearing aids and collaborate with other hearing and health professionals in their application.

What does a paediatric audiologist do?

Paediatric audiologists are professionals who examine children for hearing loss and related issues under the age of 21 years. They perform hearing tests and evaluations to determine the presence, extent, and reason for hearing loss in babies, toddlers, children, and teens.

They are highly specialized at recognizing signs of hearing loss early on. This is important because early intervention is the best course of action to prevent further hearing loss when possible and to help a child have the best hearing possible so that their speech and language development can be as close to “on target” as possible.

After determining the presence and extent of hearing loss, paediatric audiologists provide the appropriate intervention so as to prevent further hearing loss and to treat any hearing damage.

Treatment may include hearing aids or implants, as well as speech, language, and occupational therapies.

Where do I find the best audiologist near me?

Audiologists can be found in a number of settings. These include working in hospitals, government organisations, hearing aid retail chains, ENT specialist offices, medical clinics, schools and private practice to name a few. However, some audiologists practice independently in their own business.

Audiologists with special interest in adult hearing rehabilitation are generally found with a large hearing aid provider. There are several large providers, each with clinics in metro and country locations.

Some Ear, Nose and Throat specialists have a partnership in an audiology business. 

What will happen for during the first visit?

At your first visit you will be welcomed by a professional team.

To start with, your audiologist will need to get some details from you about the status of your hearing, what difficulties you are experiencing in various listening situations, relevant medical background and what you feel you would like to achieve. The audiologist will explore your communication issues and discuss with you your main hearing concerns.

Following this the audiologist will carry out an examination of your ears using an Otoscope to see if there are any abnormalities or problems in your ears such as wax or infection. Typically, audiometric tests determine a person’s hearing levels with the help of an audiometer but may also measure ability to discriminate between different sound intensities, recognize pitch, or distinguish speech from background noise. Results of audiometric tests are captured on an audiogram that is used to diagnose hearing loss or disease of the ear.

For the hearing test itself earphones are placed on your ears. The hearing test is performed separately for each ear. The audiologist will ask you to press a button when the sound is first heard. The minimum volume required to hear each tone is recorded. Speech testing is also usually done, and this involves repeating what is heard. Once the assessment is finished your audiologist will explain the results and discuss appropriate options with you. At this time any required referrals will be explained and made with your approval. If hearing devices are recommended the various device options will be covered and a recommendation will be made for the most suitable device option to meet your communication goals. At this time, you will have the opportunity to proceed with the recommended device option or any other option which you feel will meet your needs. Further appointments will be made to complete any agreed upon auditory rehabilitation program.

Do I need to be afraid of the first visit?

No There is no need to be concerned about your first visit. A hearing test is not invasive and does not cause any discomfort. Results are usually immediately available, and the hearing test has a superior ability to reveal or rule out a hearing condition. Clients are fully involved in making decisions about the options for treatment, hearing aid fitting if this is indicated. We understand that exploring your hearing deficit can be daunting and may cause some anxiety. We suggest you bring a family member with you to ensure your concerns are addressed.

What types of tests and treatments do audiologists perform?

Audiologists perform a range of assessments including assess hearing and auditory function, vestibular (balance) function, tinnitus, auditory processing function and neural function. 

Audiologists can provide counselling as well as aural rehabilitation which encompasses the prescription and fitting of hearing aids and other assistive devices (hearing aids, FM and other remote sensing systems, bone conduction aids and hearing assistive technology e.g. TV listening devices)

Audiologists also have knowledge of implantable devices (e.g. cochlear implants, middle ear implantable hearing aids, bone anchored hearing aids) and collaborate with other hearing and health professionals in their application

Further services that audiologists can provide include:

  • Wax removal and management
  • Hearing protection (custom musician/noise/swimming/sleep plugs)
  • Tinnitus rehabilitation
  • Communication training
  • Vestibular (balance) rehabilitation

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