If you or a loved one are concerned about possible hearing loss, it is really important to get a baseline hearing test. Studies show that people can take up to ten years before admitting that there might be a problem. On occasion, it is possible that the hearing problem may just be something simple like earwax build-up. When scheduling your baseline test, you want to see a licensed audiologist. It is often assumed that audiologists offer the same level of professional service as hearing instrument specialists. However, this is not the case.
An audiologist specializes in the diagnosis and management of hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders. An audiologist has 8 years of combined undergraduate and graduate-level education. Audiologists typically have a bachelor’s degree in a similar field such as Communication Disorders or Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree, they must apply to a 4-year doctoral program in Audiology. These programs are highly selective, only taking approximately 10-12 graduate students per year. Audiology students not only complete 4 years of classroom instruction, but also hands-on clinical experience with licensed audiologists. Prior to their 4th year, they must obtain an audiology intern license and practice under the supervision of a licensed audiologist. Audiology students complete comprehensive exams over every course they have taken during graduate school and must pass the state licensure exam in order to practice.
During an evaluation, an audiologist will examine the outer, middle, and inner ears with different tests to determine first if there is a hearing loss and if so, which part or parts of the ear are causing the loss. An audiologist will utilize their knowledge through this testing to make a diagnosis of hearing loss, tinnitus, and/or balance disorders. It should be mentioned that a hearing aid dispenser or instrument specialist is unable to diagnose any of those conditions. At Cornerstone Audiology, we also understand that hearing loss impacts every patient differently. Therefore, we also analyze the social and emotional impacts of hearing loss through the use of validated self-reporting questionnaires.
Once this information is obtained through a case history interview, review of self-reporting measures, and evaluation of the ear, the audiologist can offer expert guidance on treatment and management options. For some, this may mean a temporary hearing loss caused by ear wax build-up, which can be easily and comfortably removed in most cases. For others, the findings may be indicative of something more serious going on in the body and require referral to a medical physician for further investigation via MRI or CT scan. And for those patients with hearing loss and/or tinnitus without any red flag symptoms, hearing aids and tinnitus maskers may be recommended.
In closing, if you are concerned about a potential hearing loss, it is important that you have your hearing tested sooner rather than later. The friendly staff at Cornerstone Audiology will be happy to hear from you and find a time so that you can visit either the Lubbock, Big Spring, or Snyder locations.
There has never been a better time to see an audiologist. Request a callback so that Cornerstone Audiology’s doctors can help you on your better-hearing journey!