“It’s time to see an audiologist.” Many aging individuals will hear this recommendation from their primary care physician at one point in their lifetime. After all, hearing loss is a common sign of aging (though it isn’t limited to those who are older than 60). According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults aged 20-69, with the greatest amount of hearing loss in the 60-69 age range.

What is an audiologist?

If your primary care physician or perhaps even a family member suggests a visit to an audiologist, rest assured there is no reason to be scared or worried. An audiologist is a medical professional trained in the science of hearing and balance disorders. These disorders include:

  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Dizziness

Audiologists often work with other medical professionals, including speech-language pathologists, educators, engineers, scientists and other technicians to help stay up-to-date on the most technologically-advanced treatment options for the types of diseases and conditions they treat.

Why would I see an audiologist?

Most people visit audiologists because they suspect they are suffering from hearing loss. Undiagnosed hearing loss can be a debilitating way of living, leading to isolation, depression and brain atrophy, especially in older adults. An individual who seeks out help from an audiologist for hearing loss can expect services such as:

  • Hearing evaluation
  • Education and counseling about hearing loss, for both the patient and his or her family members
  • Hearing aid fittings
  • Evaluation and treating of other balance disorders
  • Determination of patient’s needs for additional assistive listening devices
  • Education on common communication strategies, including speech reading

Where do audiologists work?

Like many specialized healthcare professionals, audiologists often have private practices. However, audiologists can be found in myriad work places, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing homes
  • Assisted living communities
  • Day treatments centers
  • Home health agencies
  • Colleges and universities

When choosing an audiologist, it is important to consider the proximity of the physician’s office to your home. If you are in need of hearing aids, you will want to have easy, quick access to your audiologist, should something happen once you get your aids.