What Is Audiology?

Audiology is the study of hearing, balance and related disorders. Audiologists are health-care professionals who evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders in newborns, children, and adults. Tanner Clinic has two audiologists: Jennifer Hogge, who holds a master’s degree in audiology and Sarah Chipman, who holds a master’s and clinical doctoral degree in audiology.

What Do Audiologists Do?

Audiologists are hearing and balance experts. They test hearing sensitivity at different pitches to figure out the type, range, and likely causes of any hearing issues. They also measure an individual’s ability to understand speech, both in quiet and in noise. They assess how sound moves down to the ear canal, through the eardrum, and alone the middle ear bones to the cochlea. Even in tiny babies, audiologists measure the responses of the cochlea to sound. They also know how to test and interpret brain waves related to hearing. In addition to all this testing, they treat hearing difficulties with amplification technology and training on good communication techniques to help patients stay connected to the people in their lives.

Audiologists also measure the balance function of the inner ear and balance-related parts of the brain. They treat common causes of dizziness without surgery or medicine. If they find anything in their testing that needs to be seen by a physician then they will refer the patient to an ear nose and throat specialist (ENT) who will be able to proceed with treatments that are deemed appropriate. Audiologists work with parents, teachers,schools and work locations as hearing experts implement adaptations children and adults may need in order to hear and understand.

Audiologist are also able to clean wax out of ears and hearing aids. 

When Should I See an Audiologist?

You should see an audiologist if you have any questions or concerns about your hearing. Just like your eyes should be examined every year, your hearing should also be examined every ear if you have a known hearing loss or are at risk for one. If you have a sudden loss of hearing you should been seen by the audiology department right away. Only a comprehensive hearing test can tell if it is just wax, an ear infection, or if it is a more serious ear problem that could lead to permanent hearing damage if left untreated. Other reasons to see an audiologist are if you think most people mumble, if you have trouble understanding women or children, or if you have trouble following conversations with one or more participants. If a medical condition is found that should be evaluated by a physician you will be referred to an ENT for medical care. Audiologists work with ENTs to manage many disorders of the ears, hearing, tinnitus and balance.

You do not need to see a physician to see an audiologist. Audiologists can treat most forms of hearing loss and tinnitus.