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Utah: 435-688-8991 Nevada: 702-896-0031

Should You See a Doctor Of Audiology or an ENT?

Doctor Of Audiology

As the name implies, an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT) specializes in issues related to your ears. This includes diagnosing and treating an array of ear disorders that can lead to hearing loss. Likewise, an audiologist specializes in ear-related issues, with an emphasis on correcting hearing loss.

Given the overlap between these two types of medical professionals, how do you know which to see if you’re experiencing auditory problems? It starts by clarifying the different roles played by an ENT and an audiologist.

Audiologists Are Generally Hearing Loss ‘First Responders’

An audiologist has a thorough knowledge of the auditory system and has been trained to help people with hearing and balance issues. Essentially, an audiologist is a hearing doctor. The audiologist is generally your first stop if you’ve noticed a gradual change in your hearing, unconnected to a current illness or prior medical condition.

Your audiologist can determine if your hearing loss is caused by cerumen blockage and, if so, can clean out impacted earwax. Usually, however, an audiologist’s focus is limited to the diagnosis and correction of hearing loss, whether it’s noise-related, congenital, a byproduct of aging or stems from other causes.

Audiologists Can Fit You With Hearing Aids, Address Tinnitus

If you have hearing loss, your audiologist can fit you with the hearing aids you need to become part of the conversation again rather than straining to make out what’s being said.

Additionally, audiologists can help patients suffering from tinnitus. While this distracting and distressing condition is incurable, there are many effective treatments. Whatever form your phantom sound takes, from ringing to screeching, your audiologist can work with you to craft a tinnitus management plan. This might include fitting you with hearing aids programmed to stream sounds offsetting the inner din.

Audiologists Are Experts in Hearing Aid Fit And Technology

Audiologists know how to get the best and most comfortable hearing aid fit. They can take measurements and make molds of your ear to create custom-fitted hearing aids, hearing aid domes or earplugs for noise protection.

Well-versed on the latest hearing technology, your audiologist can help you select hearing aids that are bare-bones or equipped with information-age innovations. These include wireless streaming between your hearing aids and smartphone or other digital devices. There are even apps that let you adjust the programming of your hearing aid or tinnitus management tools at the touch of a finger!

An ENT Can Address The Medical Source Of Hearing Loss

An ENT covers more ground than an audiologist. These medical doctors specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases affecting the:

  • Ears
  • Face
  • Larynx
  • Mouth
  • Nose
  • Neck
  • Sinuses
  • Throat

If you’re experiencing symptoms like an earache and sinus pressure along with hearing loss, you should probably head for an ENT. They can prescribe medication to treat any infections that may be temporarily muffling your hearing, like an earache, sinusitis or swimmer’s ear. An ENT can also detect if a more serious disease is impacting your hearing.

Speak to an ENT if you experience hearing loss that is:

  • Abrupt
  • Associated with a pre-existing condition like an autoimmune disorder
  • Follows head or ear trauma

An ENT is also a licensed surgeon, qualified to undertake procedures like ear tube placement and otoplasty ( surgical correction for ears that protrude) as well as cerumen removal.

Audiologists and ENTs Often Work Together

An ENT will address any treatable causes of hearing loss or tinnitus. To be fitted with hearing aids, however, a patient will generally be referred to an audiologist. Similarly, if an audiologist suspects an illness or disorder is causing hearing issues, they’ll refer a patient to an ENT.

The most important thing is not whether you opt to see an audiologist or an ENT but that you seek help for your hearing loss or tinnitus.

Do you suspect you have hearing loss or tinnitus? Or have you already been diagnosed with one or both of these conditions but have yet to act on them? Contact Hearing & Balance Doctors, standout doctors of audiology serving the St. George area, for an appointment.

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