Audiologists are health care professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions related to hearing loss, balance disorders, and other auditory problems. Audiologists usually obtain and bachelor's degree and a master’s degree in audiology from an accredited university. Most then earn a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree. After receiving their doctoral degree, audiologists obtain licensure from the state in which they practice and accreditation from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). ASHA awards a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A)to qualified professionals.

Audiologists can diagnose and treat a number of conditions related to hearing disorders, balance problems, and the impairment of certain neural systems. Some examples of services audiologists provide include:

  • Hearing tests: Audiologists can perform hearing tests using listening devices and scoping tools to help determine the cause of hearing loss, the degree of hearing impairment, and develop a treatment plan that works for you.

  • Hearing impairment and loss: Audiologists are trained to diagnose and treat hearing disorders such as hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and hearing impairment due to damage to the inner ear. Depending on the level of hearing loss they find, audiologists may recommend treatment plans such as hearing aids, devices that help patients recover hearing ability.

  • Hearing assistance devices: If your audiologist uncovers signs of hearing impairment, they may recommend hearing assistance devices such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, and audiologic therapy to help repair or lessen hearing loss.

  • Balance disorders and dizziness treatment: Audiologists don't just treat hearing loss -- they are also experts in balance disorders, which are often caused by conditions in the ear. Some examples of these conditions include inner ear damage, neurological disorders, and head injuries. Audiologists will perform tests to determine the cause of the balance disorder and work with you to create a treatment plan that can help improve balance. Audiologists are also trained to perform vestibular rehabilitation, a series of exercises that can help reposition the head and body.

Put simply, hearing loss is the gradual loss of your ability to hear. The term describes hearing impairment due to a variety of factors. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), there are three types of hearing loss. These are:

  • Conductive Hearing Loss: Conductive hearing loss occurs when sound cannot get through the outer or middle ear. This makes it difficult to hear soft sounds, and makes loud sounds muffled. Conductive hearing loss can be due to fluid buildup in the inner ear, infections, or deformity, among other factors.

  • Sensorineural Hearing Loss: Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the inner ear is damaged, possibly by injury, aging, or illness. Sensorineural hearing loss results in soft sounds becoming hard to hear, and loud sounds becoming muffled or unclear.

  • Mixed: Mixed hearing loss occurs when there is a problem with both the inner and outer ear. Mixed hearing loss may be caused by damage to the nerves connecting the ear to the brain.

After assessing the severity and cause of your hearing loss or other hearing-related disorders, audiologists may create treatment plans that include medication, assistance devices, therapy, and more. To diagnose hearing loss, an audiologist will use a series of tests including a physical examination and a hearing evaluation that uses audiometers (an instrument that plays tones through headphones). Once the hearing loss has been evaluated, the audiologist will recommend a treatment plan, which may include:

  • Removal of blockage or fluid: Earwax blockage or fluid buildup due to illness can cause hearing loss. An audiologist may choose to remove this blockage using suction, clearing out the ear canal in the process. If hearing loss is persistent, an audiologist may refer the patient to an otolaryngologist (better known as an ENT) for surgery. The ENT will drain the ear of fluid with several small incisions or correct physical abnormalities in the ear.

  • Hearing aid fitting: If hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear, an audiologist may recommend a hearing aid in one or both ears. An audiologist can help the patient fit a hearing aid and determine which type of hearing aid is best. Audiologists can also help the patient care for their hearing aid, giving advice about maintenance.

  • Cochlear implants: Cochlear implants require a surgical procedure to place the implant in the inner ear. An audiologist may recommend that a patient gets this surgery through an otolaryngologist (ENT) to help recover lost hearing. A cochlear implant consists of a microphone that is worn on the outside of the head to pick up sounds. These are then sent to a transmitter implanted in the head, which sends signals directly to the auditory nerve. Cochlear implants do not restore “normal” hearing, and an audiologist will work with an ENT to determine whether this procedure is right for the patient.

  • Audiologic Rehabilitation: Audiologists can help patients learn to adjust to life with hearing loss or hearing assistance devices. They teach patients proper rehabilitation exercises and strategies to properly use hearing aids and improve listening skills. Rehabilitation can also help patients learn visual cues and negotiate noise in public. Additionally, audiologists may recommend work with speech-language pathologists to help build or regain language skills that may have been lost due to hearing impairment.

Audiologists receive special training to help assess and diagnose balance problems caused by conditions in the ear. Common symptoms of balance disorders include:

  • Difficulty walking

  • Falling

  • Lightheadedness

  • Blurred vision

  • Vertigo

  • Weakness in arms or legs

Balance problems can result from a number of underlying conditions - including hearing disorders. An audiologist will first test your hearing and examine your ears to determine if they are the cause of the problem.

If your audiologist finds that an ear disorder is causing your balance problems, they may recommend vestibular rehabilitation, a program of exercises that helps patients improve balance and reduce dizziness. Some common types of vestibular rehabilitation exercises are:

  • Posture training

  • Walking training

  • Neck mobility and stretching

  • Vision stability training

  • Strengthening exercises

Depending on your condition, vestibular rehabilitation can usually take somewhere between 6-8 weeks, with sessions taking place once or twice a week. Vestibular rehabilitation has been shown to be very effective in reducing dizziness and correcting balance problems.

Hearing tests are quick, painless, outpatient procedures usually offered at audiology clinics or other clinical practices. Whether you're having trouble hearing or just want to get checked out, audiologists can help check for hearing loss with just a few easy tests. Common hearing evaluations performed at a hearing clinic include:

- Ear exam: This is usually the first evaluation an audiologist will perform. Sometimes called otoscopy, these exams involve checking the inside of the ears with a small light and scope (known as an otoscope). By visually assessing the ear, your audiologist can screen for earwax blockage or abnormal physical issues. Earwax blockage occurs when excess wax is pushed back into the ear canal (usually with a q-tip) and hardens. This can cause hearing loss, ear infections, and other complications.

- Audiometry: This is the hearing test that most people think of when they think of hearing evaluations. You will be seated in a sound-proof room and given headphones. Your audiologist will then play different sounds at a variety of frequencies to check for hearing loss and tinnitus. Audiometry tests are painless and only take a few minutes to complete.

- Speech Testing: Like an audiometry test, you will be played a number of different words through headphones and be asked to repeat the words you hear. Speech testing helps audiologists determine your ability to recognize words.

- Tympanometry: This test helps assess how well your eardrum moves and can help determine whether you a condition of the eardrum, an ear infection, or an earwax blockage.

Sesame offers convenient and affordable online hearing tests starting at around $6. Book a hearing test with a licensed audiologist through Sesame to get the care that's right for you - all for one affordable, up-front, cash price.

A hearing test is a tool that an audiologist uses to make sure that your ears work well. So if your doctor recommends a hearing test, it doesn't necessarily mean she/he is concerned that you have hearing loss.

Hearing loss can often come on gradually, and you may not notice until someone else asks you to turn the volume down. Though free online hearing tests are available, you may consider having a trained professional conduct your hearing test, as they may provide a more thorough hearing test with more precise hearing test results and can offer proper medical advice for treatment options.

A hearing test with a health care provider can show you how mild or severe your hearing loss is and what type of loss you have, be it conductive, sensorineural, or a combination of the two.

Right here!

Good news! Sesame will offer convenient and affordable audiologist appointments in Baltimore, MD soon! Sesame works directly with doctors - not insurance companies - to offer quality care at upfront, cash prices. From hearing tests to hearing aid technology, licensed audiologists and pediatric audiologists on Sesame can help with a wide range of hearing needs.

Book a hearing test starting at around $6 on Sesame, or schedule a video audiologist consultation at your convenience. Check back soon to save up to 60% on your next audiologist visit when you book through Sesame and get started on your journey toward better hearing.

There are a handful of common hearing tests that a health care provider may conduct. These include:

- Hearing screening: This is a basic test that may help your health care professional decide if further testing is needed.

- Pure tone audiometry test: Often performed in a soundproof room, you will use a set of earphones connected to a machine that delivers different tones and sounds of speech to one ear at a time. Your health care provider may ask you to raise your associated hand, left hand for the left ear and right hand for the right ear, depending on where you hear the noise. This test can check to see what the softest, or least audible noises and the loudest decibels you can hear.

- Word recognition test: This test, also known as the speech discrimination test, can figure out your ability to discern speech from background noise. This type of test is useful in determining whether or not the use of a hearing aid is a helpful form of treatment.

- Tympanometry test: This is an exam that tests the middle ear for hearing health. This type of test is often used for children. By testing the movement in your tympanic membrane, this test can help find fluid in the middle ear, detect a middle ear infection, or discover any tears.

Whether you have good hearing or have concerns about hearing loss taking a professional hearing test is as easy as ever. Online assessment hearing tests are a new form of telehealth that allows you to understand your own hearing threshold. This may be a helpful option if an in-person session is:

- Unsafe (due to social distancing guidelines, for instance)

- Inconvenient (based on work or life schedule that doesn't allow for a trip to the doctor)

- Impossible (such as not being able to leave the house due to illness or social anxiety disorder)

Symptoms and signs linked to hearing loss may include:

  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears

  • Difficulty with hearing consonants

  • Sounds and speech sounding muffled

  • Turning up the TV or radio to hear it better

There are three main types of hearing loss:

  • Conductive hearing loss: When sound is not able to get through the outer and middle ear. This can be from fluid in the ears, ear infection, poor ear tube function, earwax buildup, an object that stuck in the outer ear, or an issue with how your middle ear is formed.

  • Sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL): This type of loss occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear and/or nerves that link the inner ear with the brain are damaged. This is the most common type of hearing loss. This could be caused by illness, exposure to loud noise, gene mutation, or side effects from certain treatments such as cancer treatment.

  • Mixed hearing loss: This is a mixture of SNHL and conductive hearing loss. It is caused by damage to both the outer or middle ear and damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve. Among the causes are age, disease, some medications, working in noisy environments, earwax buildup, trauma to the head, and conditions at birth.

After a hearing evaluation, your doctor may provide a plan that includes treatment. There are many options for a better hearing based on your particular case of hearing loss. These include:

  • Earwax removal: Using a small instrument called a curet, your doctor can remove excess earwax.

  • Cochlear implants: This is a 2-piece electronic device that is placed both on the outside of the ear as well as a second piece that is inserted under the skin that can help bypass portions of the ear that are damaged. Though this option may give a deaf person an idea of the sounds around her/him it does not restore normal hearing tot he ear.

  • Hearing aids: This option is helpful if you have hearing loss caused by damage to your inner ear. There are many fits and styles of hearing aids. Speak with your health care provider about which option is best for you.

Right here on Sesame!

Sesame will offer convenient and affordable pediatric audiologist appointments in Baltimore, MD soon! Sesame works directly with doctors- not insurance companies- to offer quality care at upfront, cash prices. From hearing tests to hearing aid technology, licensed audiologists on Sesame can help with a wide range of hearing needs.

Book a hearing test starting at around $6 on Sesame to check your hearing health, or schedule a video audiologist consultation at your convenience. Check back soon to save up to 60% on your next audiologist visit when you book through Sesame and get started on your journey toward better hearing.

The first step in getting treatment for vertigo is to talk about your symptoms and health history with a primary care provider. During a primary care appointment, your physician can talk with you about what you’ve been experiencing and may perform a physical exam to determine the possible causes of your vertigo.

Depending on what your provider thinks may be causing vertigo symptoms, they may refer you to a specialist. These doctors have specialized training to address specific parts of the body and may be able to provide more comprehensive care. Audiologists are vertigo specialists that treat balance disorders, hearing loss, and auditory problems. If your primary care provider believes that your symptoms are being caused by a condition affecting the inner ear, you may be referred to an audiologist for further evaluation.

A Doctor of Otolaryngology (also known as an ear, nose, and throat doctor) specializes in care related to those parts of the body. If your primary care provider believes that your symptoms are being caused by a condition affecting the inner ear, sinus cavity, or another part of the vestibular system, you may be referred to an ENT.

If your primary care provider believes that a condition affecting the brain or central nervous system is causing your symptoms, you may be referred to a Doctor of Neurology (also known as a neurologist). A neurologist can help diagnose and treat conditions such as brain tumors, or head injuries.

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