Audiology

Audiology is a branch of medicinal science that involves the study and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists, or those who study in the field of audiology, use various tests in order to diagnose and choose treatment for patients.

What Is An Audiologist?

Audiologists are healthcare professionals who specialize in recognizing, diagnosing and treating various hearing and balance disorders. Audiologists specialize specifically in the field of audiology, and are able to dispense and manage your prescriptions for hearing aids. They work with all patients, regardless of age. They even help with infant hearing disorders.

Hearing Disorders

Vertigo

Vertigo is the sensation that the world around you is spinning in circles. It can make you feel dizzy and unsteady. Vertigo isn’t an illness. However, it’s a symptom of a variety of conditions.

Vertigo and dizziness are both considered balance problems, but they have different symptoms. Vertigo can sometimes be triggered by loud noises or pressure in an affected ear.

Vertigo attacks can occur at any age, but they are more common in people over 65. Vertigo attacks are more common in women than men. Some women experience vertigo during pregnancy.

Vertigo attacks usually last several seconds to several minutes. Vertigo, however, can last for hours, days, weeks or months in severe cases. Even though vertigo can be frightening, it is not considered a serious condition. Vertigo can, however, be related to other potentially serious health conditions. If you have recurrent or prolonged vertigo attacks, you should let your healthcare provider know.

Although vertigo is not hereditary, it can be a symptom of a variety of conditions, some of which run in families. Hence, frequent vertigo attacks might be due to genetic factors.

Vertigo is a common symptom of migraines. An episode of vertigo can occur before the onset of a headache, during a headache or – most commonly – during a headache-free period. Some people experience vertigo as their primary migraine symptom instead of a headache.

Vertigo is not a result of stress, but it can contribute to inner ear dysfunction. Some people might experience vertigo attacks as a result. An estimated 5% of American adults experience vertigo when they are anxious or stressed.

In many cases, vertigo goes away on its own. Vertigo can, however, be managed in a number of ways. A number of factors, including the root cause of your vertigo, determine the treatment you need.

Hearing Loss

There are three major areas of the ear: the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. 

The outer ear consists of the part we can see (pinna) and the ear canal. An ear’s pinna (PIN-uh) collects sound waves from the environment and directs them into the ear canal. Vibrations are amplified by the eardrum and three small bones of the middle ear before they reach the inner ear. 

Vibrations pass through fluid inside a snail-shaped structure in the inner ear (cochlea).

The cochlea has thousands of tiny hairs that help translate sound vibrations into electrical signals that are sent to your brain. 

The brain converts these signals into sound.

Hearing loss can occur when any part of the auditory (hearing) system isn’t working properly.

Noise, aging, disease, and heredity all contribute to hearing loss. 

Hearing loss may make it difficult for people to have meaningful conversations with their friends and family. 

They may also have difficulty understanding a doctor’s advice, responding to warnings, and hearing doorbells and alarms.

Approximately one out of three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 are hard of hearing. 

However, some people may not want to admit they have difficulty hearing.

People who cannot hear well may become depressed, or they may withdraw from others because of their frustration or embarrassment. 

Often, older people who don’t hear well are mistaken for being confused, unresponsive, or uncooperative.

If ignored or untreated, hearing problems can get worse. 

You should see your doctor if you are experiencing hearing problems. 

There are many treatment options available, including hearing aids, special training, medications, and surgery.

There are many types of hearing loss.

It can range from a mild loss, in which a person is missing certain high-pitched sounds, such as the voice of a child or woman, to a complete loss of hearing.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Suddenly losing one’s hearing, or deafness, is called sensorineural hearing loss. 

The symptoms may occur all at once or gradually over three days. 

Medical attention should be sought immediately. 

Visit a doctor right away if you or someone you know experiences sudden sensorineural hearing loss.

Presbycusis

As a person gets older, they begin to experience gradual hearing loss, or presbycusis. 

The condition seems to be hereditary and may be related to changes in the inner ear or auditory nerve. 

People with presbycusis may find it difficult to tolerate loud sounds or to hear what others are saying.

Hearing loss associated with aging usually affects both ears equally. 

The loss is gradual, so an individual with presbycusis might not be aware that some of his or her hearing has been lost.

Tinnitus

Older people are also prone to tinnitus. 

It is usually described as ringing in the ears, but can also sound like roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing. 

It may come and go throughout the day. 

The sound may be heard in one ear or both, and it may be loud or soft. In older adults, tinnitus is sometimes the first sign of hearing loss. 

Hearing loss is not the only cause of tinnitus. 

It can also be caused by other health issues, such as high blood pressure, allergies, or medications.

Tinnitus can be caused by anything as simple as earwax blocking the ear canal, but it can also be caused by a variety of health conditions.

Loud Noise

One of the most common causes of hearing loss is loud noise. 

Mowers, snow blowers, and loud music can damage the inner ear, resulting in permanent hearing loss.

Loud noise can also cause tinnitus. 

The majority of loud noise-related hearing loss can be prevented. 

You can protect your ears by turning down the volume of your stereo, television, or headphones, or by wearing earplugs or other ear protection.

Punctured Eardrum

A punctured eardrum can also lead to hearing loss. 

Infections, pressure, and objects put in the ear, such as cotton-tipped swabs, can cause damage to the eardrum. 

Consult your doctor if you have pain or fluid draining from your ear.

Hereditary Hearing Loss

Hereditary factors can also contribute to hearing loss. 

Some forms of inherited hearing loss do not manifest themselves at birth. 

Others may appear later in life. 

A hereditary disease known as otosclerosis, for example, is characterized by an abnormal growth of bone within the ear.

Hearing Aids

A hearing aid is a medical device worn behind or in the ear. 

They amplify sounds so people can hear better. 

A hearing aid will not restore your hearing to normal levels or quality in the same way that glasses can usually restore your vision to 20/20.

The majority of hearing aids work through air conduction. 

These devices amplify sound and send it to the ear canal. 

After it passes through the eardrum and three tiny bones of the middle ear, sound reaches the inner ear, where it is processed and sent to the brain.

Bone-Conduction Hearing Aids

With bone-conduction hearing aids, people who have problems with their outer or middle ear can bypass those areas. 

Sound is sent through the skull to the inner ear.

Behind-The-Ear (BTE) Aids

A BTE hearing aid is generally the largest style of hearing aid. 

Most of the electronics are contained in a plastic case behind the ear that is connected to an earmold that fits in the ear canal. 

BTE hearing aids can be used by anyone of any age. 

It is often chosen for young children because it can be adapted to their needs as they grow.

Receiver-In-The-Canal Mini (RITE) Hearing Aids

A RITE hearing aid sits behind the ear and is typically smaller than a BTE. 

Hearing aids attached to tubes have a dome-shaped tip at the end that rests in the ear canal (earmolds may be used in some cases). 

In comparison to the BTE style, the RIC allows for more open space in the ear canal.

In-The-Ear (ITE) Aids

This hearing aid fits completely in the outer ear (the “bowl”). 

The hearing aid electronics are enclosed in a custom-fit shell.

In-The-Canal (ITC) Aids And Completely-In-The-Canal (CIC) Aids

Currently, these are the smallest hearing aids available. 

The electronics are contained inside a small custom-fit shell that fits partly or completely into the ear canal. 

Some people may like them because they are less noticeable, while others may find them difficult to handle.

Directional Microphone

Directional microphones focus on sound coming from a specific direction. 

You can use them to hear someone in a face-to-face conversation over the noise around you, for example.

Telecoils

Telecoils enable hearing aids to pick up sound directly from compatible phones or sound systems in public places, such as theaters and churches. 

A wireless connection such as Bluetooth allows hearing aids to communicate with televisions, cellphones, computers, tablets, and other electronic devices.

Where To Get Hearing Aids

Audiologists and other sellers licensed to dispense hearing aids, such as instrument specialists, typically sell hearing aids.

Audiologists are also able to diagnose whatever condition you have that caused the hearing loss as well, so it is recommended that you contact your doctor to get a referral to an audiologist.

Audiology Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on the level of technology, the costs can range from just short of $1,000 to more than $6,000 per device. 

People with hearing loss usually need two hearing aids, and most insurance providers do not cover the costs.

The most common type of hearing disorder is sensorineural hearing loss. 

Generally, this loss is caused by damage to the hair cells in the cochlea. 

Sensorineural hearing loss is also the most common type of hearing loss. 

A variety of factors can cause it, including aging, exposure to loud noise, injury, disease, certain drugs, or an inherited condition.

Meniere’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that may cause vertigo and hearing loss. 

Meniere’s disease generally affects only one ear. 

Although Meniere’s disease can occur at any age, it usually begins between young adulthood and middle age.

Tinnitus is characterized by a persistent or intermittent noise in the ears, like ringing, roaring, buzzing, hissing, or whistling. 

Most of the time, only the person with tinnitus can hear it (subjective tinnitus).

Take your index fingers and put them on top of your middle fingers. 

Squeeze the index fingers (the middle fingers) on top of the skull and make a loud, drumming noise. 

Do this 40-50 times. 

Some people feel immediate relief with this method. 

Repeat several times throughout the day to reduce tinnitus.

Tinnitus can be treated with noise-canceling headphones, cognitive behavioral therapy, background music, and lifestyle changes.

A variety of factors can lead to hearing loss, which affects people of all ages. 

Sensorineural hearing loss, conductive hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss constitute the three basic types of hearing loss.

Over a quarter of people with hearing loss are affected by noise, the most common cause of acquired hearing loss. 

Reduce your exposure to loud noise or wear suitable protection, such as ear muffs or ear plugs, to protect your hearing.