The Field of Audiology

By: Art Gib

Audiologists work is a variety of settings. You can find them in hospitals and rehab centers, schools, universities and commonly in their own private practices. They work with people who have ear function problems like hearing loss or balance issues.

The bulk of the work is in studying and assessing the patient's situation to determine what therapy, tools or both are needed to help them out. Some of the hardware that is used to do this is audiometers, computer testing software and other audio measuring devices.

The audio capacity in testing is important. Finding the appropriate thresholds in the patient's audio range is often necessary. For instance, finding the benchmark, the loudest sound possible where the patient can register and acknowledge the sound as being heard. Not only are parameters of hearing measured, but assessing how hearing loss impacts the patients life. The audiologist offers methodology or hardware to cope with this. The most common hardware is, of course, hearing aids.

An audiologist and patient often work in conjunction with a physicians and health educators as part of a team plan. For instance, a patient with an inner ear balance problem will usually need to routinely see a physician or occupational therapist for such things as surgery or coaching.

Hearing Disorders

Hearing disorders vary in origin, some are due to birth defects or complications during the birth process. Babies are routinely screened for hearing loss at the hospital. Aggressive state campaigns have made this process mandatory, so audiologists are often there doing work and checking newborns within the hospital. However, hearing loss commonly develops around two to three years of age.

The damage to hearing can either be congenital, meaning it is present at birth, or is caused by something that is acquired, like loud noises or something that ruptures the eardrum. Also, the audio loss can come from sensorineural, which is the loss of hearing due to inner ear or brain connections issues.

Conductive hearing loss is hearing loss that stems from damage to the middle or outer ear. This is the most common damage location for children. Some examples of this kind of damage are ruptures of the eardrum. For instance, excessive ear wax in newborns can create this.

Most disorders are often easily treated with medicines as well as therapy with hearing aids.

Education of an Audiologist

All licensed audiologists must have at least a master's degree in audiology. Some states require a doctoral degree. Eight states require a doctoral degree to practice and they will have to license themselves with the state they are in.

Currently there are 67 universities from all around the U.S. from coast to coast, such as the University of Massachusetts and even in more rural regions like Idaho (University of Idaho) that provide such training.

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