Individuals looking for hearing loss treatment face a number of challenges, including medical terms that may be unfamiliar and categories of healthcare professionals that may seem confusing.
 

Otolaryngologist and Audiologists — What’s the Difference?

Audiologists are Hearing Doctors
An audiologist is a state-licensed hearing healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. Our audiologists have all completed a doctoral-level program: Au.D., Doctor of Audiology or Ph.D., Doctor of Philosophy in Audiology. Audiologists work closely with ENTs, primary care physicians and neurologists to diagnose all hearing disorders. Because of their extensive education and training, audiologists are uniquely qualified to provide you with the most comprehensive treatment for your hearing disorders. Audiologists typically offer the following services:

Audiologists possess comprehensive knowledge of the human auditory and vestibular systems, and they have extensive training in sound reproduction, which is critical to the accurate fitting and adjustment of hearing aids.

 
Otolaryngologist or ENTs are Ear Doctors
Otolaryngologists are physicians (M.D.’s or Doctors of Medicine) who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ears, nose, mouth, and throat. Trained in both medicine and surgery, otolaryngologists typically treat the types of hearing loss that require pharmaceutical or surgical treatment. These types of hearing loss include sudden hearing loss, those caused by trauma, infection, middle ear growths or abnormalities, or benign tumors in the ear.

Otolaryngologists work closely with audiologists in diagnosing and in determining the most comprehensive course of treatment for patients experiencing hearing disorders.


No matter what type of specialist you decide to see for your hearing needs, the most important factor is the overall experience they provide, which should include a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating, and re-evaluating your hearing. Partnering with a professional who listens to your needs is critical to the success of your treatment plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I improve my hearing?
Unfortunately, many forms of hearing loss are permanent because there is no cure. Treatment methods that feature amplification fit to your specific hearing loss by a hearing care professional typically have the highest user satisfaction for improved hearing and improved quality of life.
How can I prevent hearing loss?
Protecting your hearing from noise levels greater than 85 decibels at work and during leisurely activities will greatly reduce your chances of noise-induced hearing loss. Many manufacturing jobs require hearing protection in loud environments, but hearing protection is also recommended while ATV riding, hunting, attending concerts and sporting events, and playing music — all situations where your hearing is vulnerable.
What should I do if I get sudden hearing loss?
See your physician immediately; sudden hearing loss is considered a medical emergency. Sudden hearing loss typically resolves on its own within two weeks, but it might not — meaning your hearing might be gone for good. Seeking medical assistance within 72 hours of the onset of sudden hearing loss greatly improves the chances that your hearing will recover.
At what age do people normally start getting hearing loss?
Since hearing loss is cumulative, hearing loss begins as an infant and continues throughout life. Most individuals don’t begin to experience symptoms until their late 20s or early 30s, and by age 45 a yearly hearing check becomes of greater importance. One-third of people beyond the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss, however mild or severe, and that share of the elderly population increases as they age.
Are some types of hearing loss easier to treat?
Hearing loss is a puzzle that our professionals love to solve, and it is based on your individual experiences, lifestyle, and severity of impairment. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment method for hearing loss — it’s based on the sounds that you can’t hear, which vary greatly, and the sounds that you want to be able to hear. A quality hearing system from a reputable manufacturer isn’t effective until an experienced, qualified hearing care professional programs the technology properly based on your unique hearing needs.
Is hearing loss hereditary?
Though it is difficult to say what genetic factors predispose individuals to hearing loss, there seems to be a connection. Some genetic disorders present at birth cause a hearing loss, but in the absence of a disease, hearing loss can still have a basis in your genetics.
Are there any health downsides to not treating hearing loss?
Research has established a relationship between hearing loss and dementia. There is strong evidence that hearing loss accelerates brain-tissue atrophy, particularly in areas of the brain that auditory nerves would stimulate but can’t because they aren’t receiving a signal (due to a hearing loss). These areas of the brain are also related to memory and speech. Individuals with a mild hearing loss are three times as likely to fall down than those without, and the likelihood of falls increases as degree of hearing loss increases. Hearing loss has also been linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sickle-cell anemia, and other circulatory conditions.