This month is the perfect time to finally schedule a hearing test. Why? Because October is Audiology Awareness Month! Let’s examine what an audiologist does and discuss a few of the conditions that they can help diagnose and treat.
What Does an Audiologist Do?
An audiologist is a professional who specializes in the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of hearing and balance disorders.
Most audiologists have earned a doctorate in audiology (Au.D), while others have a master’s degree and extensive training in hearing and balance disorders. There are currently 74 Au.D programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).
How Audiologists Help with Hearing Loss
Approximately 15% of American adults (37.5 million) report some trouble hearing. As we age our risk of hearing loss increases. However, hearing loss is often gradual. Many people who have mild hearing loss don’t even notice that it’s happening. Others only notice it in very specific circumstances and don’t think much of it, like when they’re dining someplace busy like Local Kitchen. The only way they can know the actual degree of their hearing loss is to take a hearing test. This is where an audiologist can first help.
Hearing tests are fast and offer same-day results to help you plan your next course of action. During the test, your audiologist will evaluate things like how well you hear speech and how your ears respond to loud sounds, among other criteria.
If hearing loss is detected, the most common treatment is hearing aids. Your audiologist will help you select the right type of hearing aid for your lifestyle, as well as program them to meet your hearing needs. They will also counsel you before using your hearing aids, so you better know what to expect as you make this change.
How Audiologists Help with Balance Disorders
A balance disorder is a condition marked by symptoms of feeling unsteady or dizzy, even while being still or lying down. Balance disorders are caused by things that affect the inner ear like:
- Ear infections
- Some medications
- Head injuries
Similar to hearing loss, the risk for balance disorders increases with age. Some of the more common balance disorders are:
- Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV)
- Meniere’s disease
If you are experiencing symptoms of a balance disorder, an audiologist will evaluate your symptoms and run diagnostic testing to determine the cause of your symptoms. Depending on the underlying condition several treatment options may be recommended, including:
- Changes to your diet and elimination of alcohol and nicotine.
- Medication like antihistamines, steroids, sedatives, or in the case of a bacterial infection, antibiotics.
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Vestibular retraining programs
If you are experiencing hearing or balance issues, have any questions, or wish to schedule an appointment with an audiologist call Torrance Audiology today.