We are now coming into a time where hearing loss awareness and information are becoming more accessible to everyone and slowly more people are talking about their hearing loss openly. Although there is still a long way to go - it is a positive step in the right direction.
We are beginning to see a gradual increase in available education about the benefits of hearing aids, other forms of treatment and just how important an early diagnosis is for your hearing's future and the quality of life you lead.
But, what about the audiologist themselves? What about the professionals that make this a reality? Here we answer some of the common misconceptions of our industry and questions about this important profession.
An audiologist is a hearing healthcare professional that manages, focuses and finds a solution to problems of the auditory system of a patient. Audiologists are professionally trained to diagnose, treat and monitor all levels of hearing loss, tinnitus symptoms and balance issues (vestibular).
What an audiologist does
You might be wondering what is a typical day like for an audiologist and what is being an audiologist like? An audiologist's main role is to test hearing capability (audiogram), advise the most beneficial treatment for hearing loss, dispense hearing aids and fit hearing aids. They also organise and manage cochlear implants and provide rehabilitation counselling for their patients and families.
This could be an education on hearing loss, how to manage tinnitus symptoms, lip-reading or how to better communicate as a family and individual in various hearing situations and social gatherings.
Where do audiologists work?
Audiologists work in various practice settings, for instance, they provide their hearing healthcare services in their own private clinics, in hospitals and Hearing Aid UK also offers hearing care services and hearing tests in your own home for no extra fee.
They generally work alongside and collaborate with speech therapists and pathologists, hearing coaches, ENT clinics and otolaryngologists.
An audiologist vs otolaryngologist
What is the difference between an audiologist and an otolaryngologist? This could also be referred to as the difference between an audiologist and ENT. The Ear, Nose and Throat specialists are medical doctors who have completed a degree at a medical school and have specialised in the otolaryngology field.
They offer a variety of services, procedures, treatments and can diagnose problems or disorders of the ear, nose, throat and even the lower areas of the skull. Audiologists work within an ENT clinic or own private practice providing hearing tests, dispensing hearing aids and offering counselling services.
Is an audiologist a doctor?
So, are audiologists doctors? The simple answer here is no - audiologists are not medical doctors and they don't have to have a doctorate degree to practice. An audiologist is a licensed healthcare professional who specialises in diagnosing, treating and administering to those with hearing loss, tinnitus and other types of hearing problems.
What is an audiologist education requirements?
What is required to become an audiologist? They have to, at a minimum, have a masters degree in their field and then some go on to accomplish a doctorate degree, where they will then be a doctor of audiology.
What is a certified audiologist
Since 2010 the qualification required to become a hearing aid dispenser is a foundation degree in audiology so you may see the letters Fd Sc Aud after the name. In any case, the hearing aid dispenser needs to be registered with the HCPC and the registration details can be found on the HCPC website.
In fact, our founder and owner, Paul Harrison was on the BSHAA Council between 2015-2020.
Are audiologists regulated?
Regulation within audiology has been confusing to consumers for some time. What is important to know is that those who assess, fit, programme and dispense hearing aids should be registered by the Health Care and Professionals Council (HCPC).
All of our audiologists at Hearing Aid UK are qualified & registered with the HCPC. Hearing Aid Dispensers are regulated by the HCPC and set up to protect the public. Their job is to keep a register of health and care professionals who meet their standards for their training, professional skills, behaviour and health.
We are also a member of the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists (BSHAA) who is the professional body that represents and promotes the interests of the independent hearing aid profession across the UK. The Irish equivalent of this is ISHAA and our founder, Paul Harrison, also sits on the BSHAA council.
Here are some topics of study audiologists cover during their education and training:
1. Manage tinnitus relief
When suffering from tinnitus symptoms, there are plenty of options available to you, that an audiologist can discuss. A complete audiological assessment would be arranged to discover the severity and to strike off any diseases which may be present.
Other issues to factor in could be exposed to noise, blood pressure, allergies or stress. You might then be referred for treatment or the audiologist will advise you on the best course of action to relieve your symptoms. You might even need sound therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy or tinnitus retraining therapy.
Living with any form of hearing loss or balance issue can be difficult, at times debilitating and let us not forget to mention – alter your quality of life. Here is where an audiologist comes in. They are the best medical professionals to advise and steer you in the right direction with your hearing health.
Offering services that give you the best solutions for various circumstances and situations like; tinnitus, hearing protection, hearing loss, wax build-up, balance worries, hearing aids and tests.
3. Discuss products available
There are so many innovative products out there for tinnitus, hearing protection and hearing loss, which you can discuss with an audiologist. They will relay all the options that would benefit you and your hearing healthcare the most.
We are all unique and respond to treatment, protection and products differently. Deciding on the best solutions may take some time, but with the help of an audiologist, you will receive unbiased advice, built from trust, confidence and communication.
4. Fit hearing aids
An audiologist will advise and fit your hearing aids. These are the best solution for you and your hearing loss. Using your test results – the audiologist will tailor your hearing aid settings to give you the best possible hearing experience. Follow up appointments will be made so that your hearing health is maintained and monitored. Ensuring that your hearing aids are continually providing optimum support.
5. Remove wax
If you have wax build-up in your ear, an audiologist can professionally and carefully remove this problem. There are two methods currently used – micro-suction and irrigation. Symptoms that can surface if the wax build-up is not treated could be tinnitus, infections, pain, dizziness or restricted hearing, so it is always best to urgently seek medical help.
6. Perform a hearing test
Using an audiogram, an audiologist can carry out a hearing test. It shows the test results in graph-form. Each ear will be introduced to different tones and frequencies. The audiologist will mark when these tones become audible to you – the ‘threshold’. Once the test is complete, there will be a summary of how your hearing copes with different sounds and how sensitive each ear is.
If the findings highlight a hearing loss, the audiologist will explain what type of loss you have developed and whether it can be treated. In most cases, wearing hearing aids can help you improve your quality of hearing and life. All these options will be discussed and explained to you.
7. Help with balance
If dizziness and balance become a problem, it is vital that you get medical help as soon as you can. An audiologist can offer various balance tests to determine cause, severity and diagnosis. Your eye movements may also be tested – due to them often highlighting the true functionality of your ears.
Sometimes a hearing test is required, as inner-ear problems generally stem from issues with the hearing system. Expert advice will follow your consultation, as to how your balance can be reinstated.
Introducing David - One of Our Audiologists
David graduated as an audiologist in 2003. He worked for many years dispensing hearing aids for the high street chains and later as an independent audiologist before joining the staff of Hearing Aid UK. Here are a few common hearing loss Q&A scenarios from David and our patients.
I have pretty old hearing aids and although the volume is good, I keep having to push them back into my ear canal - plus the speech is really distorted. I hear a lot better if people raise their voices and I've recognised that my family is getting very irritated with me for not understanding what they are saying. What would you advise my next steps to be?
It is difficult to be definitive about this, as I do not know what hearing aids you have, however, a common problem with some older hearing aids, especially the more basic ones is that they can be great at providing volume, but don't really help with "clarity" which is what most people tend to need. Modern hearing aids are designed to enhance speech sounds above all others.
Also, it sounds like your aids may not have been fitted correctly as they should sit in the right position and shouldn't need pushing further into your ears.⠀
My best advice would be for you to have an assessment with one of our audiologists so that we can see if we can do anything to improve your situation and let you have a look at and listen through some different hearing aids to compare the difference.⠀ ⠀
I have profound hearing loss in my left ear and across the whole range - due to previous damage caused by an ear infection. My left ear has a significant loss at higher frequencies. I think that a premium aid will be a good solution, particularly in social environments. Selecting an appropriate brand seems difficult so I would appreciate your opinion.⠀
There may be several options, depending on how your test results come out. If your left ear is aidable, then having a high-end hearing aid in that ear with a powerful receiver, paired with a standard powered one in your better ear would be the best solution.
If your left ear is not aidable then we could either go for the best aid you could get and just help the better side, or do the same but also with what is called a "BICROS" system which would enable you to hear sounds coming from your offside into your better ear as well. Knowing what solution is going to be optimal and working out which brand would best suit you is something that only the audiologist you see in person could do.⠀
I have been wearing NHS aids since last year and find them good for speech and everyday use, but music is a huge problem for me. As a pianist, I am interested to know if there are any aids that would give my hearing clarity whilst avoiding terrible distortion. This seems to happen even on the music setting, so I have to take the aids out when I am playing. There is a loss of distinction in the treble register in particular. Can you help me?
NHS hearing aids, whilst they provide good if basic hearing amplification they are not particularly natural sounding. The music sets you have on them still uses the same underlying technology and therefore is limited in the way it amplifies the different frequencies.
Generally speaking, in order for the music to be more natural you should look at trying either a hearing aid with more channels so that it can more accurately represent your hearing loss, or my personal preference would be Bernafon hearing aids as they have no channels at all and preserve the full natural sound and are therefore particularly good for music.
I have a complete hearing loss in my left ear after an operation for Meniere’s some years ago. I now have narrow ear canals because of this and they need cleaning regularly. My right ear needs enhancement due to the operation. I would prefer an In the Ear aid - is this still possible?
Generally speaking, if you have narrow ear canals - wearing an IIC hearing aid is not possible. This is due to the ear not providing enough space to fit a hearing aid in with all the relevant components comfortably, securely and with the right technology for your needs. However, other possible alternatives could be larger inner ear hearing aids, as these sit just within your ear canal rather than completely inside, or models with a slim RIC. ⠀ ⠀
It is impossible to tell on description alone, as we would have to look inside your ear and determine how narrow, narrow is. Therefore, to give you a more accurate source of advice we would advise you to book an appointment with an audiologist.⠀
My husband has significant damage and sensitivity in his fingers due to his old type of work. He has had a Behind the Ear NHS hearing aid in the past but it hasn't been much use. What would be the best type of aid, as his hearing and dexterity have worsened over the years?
There are several options that might make it easier for him. Either an easy to put in custom made aid which is moulded to the shape of his ear - which we can attach a small handle to help with the insertion, alternatively if his main problem was the changing of batteries, a behind the ear rechargeable aid might be best. We can let him have a try with some to see how easily he handles them.
I have a pair of Siemens behind the ear hearing aids currently. These are about five years old and now I'm thinking about getting an upgrade to a pair of Bluetooth aids. My current ones aren't great when using the telephone and also in social gatherings. As well as my age-related hearing loss, I have ear wax, so any new aids must be easy to clean. Would an upgrade to Bluetooth aids be better?
Hearing aids have changed a lot over the last five years. Yes, Bluetooth will certainly help with hearing on a mobile telephone as the conversation can go directly to both hearing aids in stereo. Other technologies not related to Bluetooth are what will help you to hear better in background noise.
Most manufacturers have made significant advances in speech processing in background noise. As to cleaning your hearing aids, that side of things hasn't changed much. It is still important to have a daily cleaning routine, otherwise hearing aids may get blocked with earwax.
If you think you need an audiologist appointment because you feel you have problems with your hearing or any other type of hearing health care issues, our audiologists can help you. The quicker you get your hearing checked by an audiologist, the quicker you can be correctly diagnosed and the more successful your treatment will be.
Audiologist Near Me
Hearing Aid UK has a professional network of over 200 audiologists nationwide, so we can always locate the right audiologist near you.
Wherever you live, we’ll have someone near to you. We offer the choice of appointments either in a shop, clinic or in the comfort of your own home. Call us free on 0800 567 7621
Do not spend hundreds of pounds without getting a second opinion from us.
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When we refer to a product as 'Superseded', we mean that there is a newer range available which replaces and improves on this product.
When we refer to a product as an 'Older Model', we mean that it is has been superseded by at least two more recent hearing aid ranges.