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The Differences Between An Audiologist And An ENT
An audiologist is a doctor trained in the identification, and treatment of diminished hearing capacity. An audiologist provides patients with assistive listening devices including hearing aids, and handles non-medical hearing problems. An ENT doctor takes care of individuals with hearing loss with a physical cause that is generally treatable.
There are numerous reasons an individual sees an audiologist. Earwax is common, can be removed by an audiologist, and aids in the restoration of hearing. When hearing problems do not have a physical, or organic cause, an audiologist will conduct a comprehensive examination to determine the range of hearing loss.
Hearing loss has signs including consistently asking people to repeat what they said, being unable to understand what individuals are saying when in a crowd, the inability to hear the higher pitch of a woman’s, or child’s voice, or hearing voices as a mumble. Although many individuals try to hide these signs, they can be effectively treated with a hearing aid by an audiologist.
Tinnitus is classified by a buzzing, or ringing in the ears. The sound can be constant, intermittent, or high pitched. This condition is linked to hearing loss, and requires an audiologist. Another sign is the inability to hear the cry of a child, a phone ringing, or the sounds of a bird. As hearing loss begins, these sounds will start to fade.
Hearing loss is often related to age, and has progressed over an individual’s life. Medical, or surgical intervention is usually not an option in these cases, but a hearing aid can usually restore the individual’s hearing. This can be determined by being tested with an audiologist.
An ENT doctor is also referred to as an ear, nose, and throat doctor, or an otolaryngologist. Their training is medical, and includes diagnosing problems with the ears, nose, larynx, throat, neck, and head. The training often includes general surgery for two years, so they can operate for serious conditions including cancer.
An ENT is responsible for medical conditions pertaining to hearing loss including autoimmune diseases, tumors, and Meniere. An ENT treats physical causes such as a perforated eardrum, or fused bones in the inner ear. When the hearing loss is caused by medications, it is called ototoxicity, and the patient will be referred to an audiologist.
Any issues caused by an autoimmune disease require an evaluation by an ENT. Balance issues affecting head movement also require a medical evaluation. Otosclerosis is fused bones, and the main sign is hardening in the ear. This is often a growth fusing, or impeding normal ear movement, and is usually treated with surgery. Significant pain in the ear requires consulting with an ENT.
When trauma to the ear, or head occurs, an ENT must determine if surgery is required, or if the patient requires an audiologist. An ENT evaluates any hearing problems in children because they are often caused by ear infections, allergy problems, or sinus’s.
SSHL stands for sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Although it is rare this condition can be medically treated, an ENT evaluation is necessary to rule out a steroid treatment prior to the individual seeing an audiologist.