There is really no one type of hearing doctor. In general, hearing healthcare professionals are people who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and hearing aids. While they are not all technically hearing doctors because they may not have a doctoral degree, they each have their own special set of skills and help patients with a variety of hearing and ear concerns. There are three main types of hearing healthcare professionals, each with their own training and expertise in the field of audiology and hearing. There are audiologists, ENTs, and hearing instrument specialists (HIS).
Audiologists are trained hearing doctors who are required to hold either a master’s or doctor of audiology degree. Audiologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss, counseling, and fitting of hearing aids. They are also able to treat other hearing conditions such as cerumen (earwax) removal, tinnitus, hyperacusis, and balance disorders related to the vestibular system. Patients who have severe hearing loss mixed with another condition, such as tinnitus or vertigo, should see an audiologist for an evaluation and to set up a treatment plan.
Otolaryngologists or ENT specialists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of the ears, nose, and throat. An ENT (or Ear, Nose & Throat specialist) has training in the medical treatment of ear disorders. They are able to treat ear infections, remove earwax build-up, and perform surgeries on adults and children. ENT surgeons also perform cochlear implant surgeries on patients of any age with severe sensorineural hearing loss. Often times, a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist will refer you to an ENT if your hearing loss needs medical intervention that cannot be treated through hearing aids alone.
Hearing instrument specialists, also known as hearing aid dispensers, can administer the necessary tests to determine the type and severity of your hearing loss. These types of hearing doctors are state-licensed, board-certified, and can treat hearing loss through hearing aids. They are experts at dispensing and fitting hearing aids, as well as extremely knowledgeable about the different levels of hearing aid technology. Hearing instrument specialists know all the different types of hearing aids and which ones are better suited for certain types of hearing loss.
Audiologists, ENTs, and hearing instrument specialists each provide expert care to patients—including ongoing support—to properly diagnose and treat hearing loss through hearing aids. If you suspect you have any type of hearing loss, then you should see a hearing doctor right away, so they can work with you to create a personalized treatment plan.
Although the education and training hearing doctors receive can vary depending on what type of specialist they are, they all have the same goal in common; to help you hear your best. Having your hearing checked by a hearing doctor is a crucial part of keeping your overall well-being in good health. Untreated hearing loss can lead to other serious conditions such as dementia or balance issues. Sometimes hearing loss can even be the result of another underlying condition, such as heart disease or diabetes. It is important to have your hearing checked to ensure you are receiving the proper treatment and care. If you or a loved one suspect that you have hearing loss, then find your local EarQ provider and schedule your appointment today.