It is estimated that more than 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, and the problem can affect people of all ages. At least 1.4 million of those who suffer are children, and 65% are under the age of 65.
Often thought of as a problem of aging, the fact is that hearing loss can affect people at any age. When hearing loss is suspected, a patient is often sent to see an audiologist for both diagnosis and treatment.
What Is An Audiologist?
An audiologist is a healthcare professional who evaluates, diagnoses and treats hearing loss in adults and children. Most audiologists hold a doctorate degree in audiology from accredited universities or colleges. In addition, most states demand that audiologists be licensed, requiring further testing or continuing education.
What Does An Audiologist Do?
An audiologist treats all types of hearing loss, which are almost all treatable in some manner. An audiologist can:
- Examine and assess patients reporting hearing loss
- Prescribe and fit hearing aids
- Design and implement hearing conservation programs
- Develop newborn hearing screening programs
- Provide hearing rehabilitation programs
- Counsel patients on alternative communication methods such as lip reading or sign language
- Conduct research on the causes and treatment of common hearing loss causes
In addition, audiologists often assist in cochlear implant programs and monitor ear or hearing related surgeries. Cochlear implants are small devices placed near the ear, under the skin, that send electric impulses to the auditory nerve. This allows people with certain forms of deafness to hear again. Audiologists are employed in hospitals, schools, clinics, private practice and many other areas that perform health screenings. In addition, audiologists are often called when a patient is suffering from balance and vertigo issues as those could be related to inner ear problems. The equipment used by audiologists include audiometers, computers and other testing devices.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers for audiologists are expected to grow by 34%, which is much higher than the national average. The average salary for an audiologist is $69,720 per year, or $33.52 per hour. Most audiologists work full-time while some work nights and weekends to meet the needs of patients. In some areas, audiologists are contracted and must travel from one facility to another in order to meet with patients.
One of the tasks normally assigned to an audiologist is the fitting of hearing aids or other devices that can help address the loss of hearing. Research indicates that nine out of 10 people with hearing loss can be helped through the use of hearing aids. Most hearing loss is caused by nerve damage, which can be corrected through hearing aids. An audiologist can determine if a hearing aid, assistive listening device or even hearing rehabilitation can correct the problem and help the patient hear again.
For anyone suffering with hearing loss, whether it is minor or severe, there is no need to live without sound. Being able to hear and pick up on auditory signals makes functioning in the world much easier. In most cases, a hearing aid or assistive listening device like Miracle Ear can help a patient hear clearly with minimal effort.
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