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6 FAQs About Audiologists

Hearing Doctor

If you have concerns about your hearing, suffer from tinnitus or have problems with balance you may need to seek treatment from an audiologist. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions about audiologists.

1. What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a medical professional that specializes in hearing loss and vestibular (inner ear) disorders. They have a doctoral level degree in Audiology (Au.D) and are certified by a national board and licensed by the state.

2. What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist?

Audiologists have advanced-level degrees. In addition to classroom learning, an audiologist must also complete clinical training. A hearing instrument specialist may have as little as a few months or as much as two years of school. They are trained in the fitting of hearing aids and are licensed by the state where they work.

3. Are visits to the audiologist cover by my health insurance?

You will need to verify this with your insurance carrier. Some insurance policies only cover visits to the audiologist if you are referred by your primary physician. Other policies don’t cover visits for hearing tests. Medicare Part B covers visits to the audiologist for medical purposes; it does not cover visits for hearing exams or fitting hearing aids.

4. How do audiologists treat tinnitus?

Most tinnitus is connected to hearing loss. Hearing loss decreases the external stimuli to the brain. Without adequate stimulation, the brain changes how it processes sound and tinnitus is the result. Audiologists fit hearing aids to increase auditory stimulation. This will halt or decrease the tinnitus. When tinnitus is not the result of hearing loss, audiologists can prescribe sophisticated masking devices that look like hearing aids. These devices create a white noise that covers or masks the tinnitus sound. In addition, audiologists can provide cognitive behavior therapy or biofeedback training.

5. Why see an audiologist for balance problems?

Balance begins in the inner ear. Audiologists are specially trained to treat vestibular (inner ear) disorders. Balance orders can be as simple as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo or as complicated as Meniere’s disease. Audiologists have the perfect combination of medical training, technological knowledge and personal skills to treat vertigo and related conditions.

6. Why see an audiologist and not an ENT?

Ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors are highly trained on the function of the ear, nose and throat. They are not trained in acoustic science or have in-depth training in how we hear. Audiologists are trained not only in the anatomy and diseases of the ear, but they are trained in sound. They understand how the body converts sound waves to electrical impulses that the brain processes to result in hearing. An ENT is the natural choice for chronic sinusitis, allergies or problems with the tonsils or adenoids. If you have a problem with hearing or tinnitus, see an audiologist.