An audiologist will use audiometers, computers, and other devices to test patients' hearing ability and balance, determine the extent of hearing damage, and identify the underlying cause.
An audiologist will usually:
• Examine patients who have hearing, balance, or related ear problems• Assess the results of the examination and diagnose problems• Determine and administer treatment• Fit and dispense hearing aids• Counsel patients and their families on ways to listen and communicate, such as by lip reading or through sign language• See patients regularly to check on hearing and balance and to continue or change the treatment plan• Keep records on the progress of patients• Conduct research related to the causes and treatment of hearing and balance disorders
Audiologists measure the volume at which a person begins to hear sounds and the person's ability to distinguish between sounds. Also, before determining treatment options, they evaluate psychological information to measure the impact of hearing loss on a patient. Treatment options vary and may include cleaning wax out of ear canals, fitting and checking hearing aids, or fitting and programming the patient with cochlear implants to improve hearing. (Cochlear implants are tiny devices that are placed under the skin near the ear in an operation. Cochlear implants deliver electrical impulses directly to the auditory nerve in the brain so a person with certain types of deafness can hear.)
Audiologists also counsel patients on other ways to cope with profound hearing loss, such as learning to lip-read or using sign language.