March 31, 2013

Ask the Audiologist

By Heather Sandy, MA, CCC-A
Audiology Consultants, P.C.

What is the difference between an Audiologist and an ENT Physician?

If you have hearing or balance problems, you may be referred to a specialist for further testing or treatment. Should you see an Audiologist or an ENT Physician? Sometimes the answer is “both.”

An Audiologist is a health care professional who can evaluate, diagnose and manage hearing loss and balance disorders. Audiologists have earned a doctoral degree (Au.D.) or master’s degree (M.A.) in Audiology and must be licensed or registered in their state of practice. You might find an Audiologist in a variety of settings: private practices, hospitals, universities, ENT offices, and schools to name a few. Your Audiologist will be able to perform a thorough examination of your ears, hearing, or balance system and be able to recommend the appropriate follow up or referral. If hearing loss is found and hearing aids are an option, the Audiologist is an expert in the selection and fitting of appropriate hearing aids or other amplification. If a potential medical issue is seen, the Audiologist will likely refer you to an Ear, Nose and Throat Physician for treatment options.

An ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) Physician is the medical doctor who treats disorders of the head and neck including, among other things, hearing loss and balance disorders. The ENT Physician is highly qualified to recommend the appropriate medical or surgical treatments for your condition. In the case of hearing loss, if no medical or surgical treatment will improve the condition, the Physician may provide medical clearance to proceed with a hearing aid trial.

Audiologists and ENT Physicians often work in cooperation to see that their patients with hearing loss and balance disorders have the best treatment available for their
particular needs.