What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a trained healthcare professional who diagnoses and treats people with hearing and balance problems.

An audiologist helps patients with these hearing and balance health issues, with the goal of improving their quality of life.

Typically, an audiologist works with or treats:

  • People with hearing loss
  • Patients with tinnitus disorders (noise or ringing in ears)
  • Individuals who use hearing aids or hearing-assisted devices
  • Persons with balance problems or dizziness

What does an audiologist do?

An audiologist administers hearing screenings and hearing tests to determine if someone might have a hearing disorder or hearing loss. These tests evaluate whether or not someone has hearing loss, as well as the type of hearing loss they have and the degree of the hearing loss.

Your physician might refer you to an audiologist, or someone might consult an audiologist on their own. During this consultation, an audiologist reviews your health history, performs any necessary hearing screenings or tests, and will provide different treatment options and recommendations, depending on the hearing or balance problem.

If the hearing condition is medically treatable, the audiologist will refer patients to the right hearing doctor. If the hearing or balance problem cannot be treated medically, the audiologist will recommend other types of treatment, such as hearing aids, aural rehabilitation (which includes listening, speech-reading and auditory training), or balance therapy.

When should you see an audiologist or hearing doctor?

Hearing loss is a common problem in older adults. According to the National Institute on Aging, roughly one in three senior citizens between the ages of 65 and 74 suffer from some hearing loss. Nearly half of adults age 75 and over have difficulty hearing.

Signs of hearing loss can vary depending on the type of hearing loss you have. Here are some common signs of hearing loss in adults:

  • Trouble understanding words, especially when there is background noise or in a crowd of people
  • People speaking sound muffled, or muffling of other sounds
  • Constantly asking others to speak slower, louder or more clearly
  • Volume is on too high when listening on the TV, radio, cell phone, computer or other digital device (like an iPad)

Especially for older adults, having a hearing problem can limit or reduce their social activity and interactions with others. Adults with hearing loss might feel shy or embarrassed about not being able to hear or participate in conversation. Older adults might get frustrated when they can’t hear or listen very well.

In children, signs of hearing loss can vary depending upon the age of the child. With school-age children and teenagers, signs could include saying “what?” or “huh?” often, or turning up the volume too loud on the TV, laptop, smartphone or when listening to music with headphones. In older children, parent might think their child isn’t paying attention, but they might actually not be able to hear very well.

In babies and toddlers, signs of hearing loss include:

  • Baby doesn’t startle or react to loud noises
  • After six months of age, the infant doesn’t turn to the source of a sound
  • After one year, baby still doesn’t use simple words like “mama” or “dada”
  • Infant seems to hear some sounds but ignores other sounds

Treatment for Hearing Loss in Denver, CO

At Swedish Medical Center, our dedicated team of hearing specialists includes neurotologists, audiologists and speech language therapists, all of whom work together to help improve the quality of life for children and adults with deafness or hearing loss. Swedish Medical Center is a leader in treating patients with severe or profound hearing loss, as well as providing treatment and resources for those with any type of hearing loss.