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What is the Difference Between Audiologist and ENT Doctors?

two doctors standing in a medical facility

If you are experiencing hearing loss or other ear-related health issues, you may decide that you need to seek medical advice. But a lot of people do not know whether they should see an audiologist or an ENT doctor. Although there are some similarities between the work of an audiologist and an ear, nose and throat doctor, they both perform different treatments and have a different area of expertise, so it is important that you know which is right for your situation. So, what is the difference between an audiologist and an ENT doctor? 

What is an audiologist? 

An audiologist is a doctor that is a hearing healthcare professional that specializes in identifying, diagnosing, and treating issues with the auditory and vestibular areas of the ear. They most commonly deal with things like hearing loss, tinnitus or balance issues. Their expertise is in the technology that is used to manage these conditions. For example, if you need hearing aids fitted to manage your hearing loss, an audiologist will be able to advise you on this. 

They also play a wider role in helping people with hearing loss. It can be very difficult for people that experience late-life hearing loss to adjust and cope with their condition. An audiologist will be able to help them with practical things like buying phones that are compatible with their hearing aids, for example. They can also direct people to useful resources that will make it easier for them to live with their hearing loss. Audiologists may also counsel the patient and their family to help them deal with the emotional aspects of hearing loss. 

What is an ENT doctor? 

ENT stands for ear, nose and throat, and an ENT doctor will deal with any medical issues in these three areas. Their focus is on things such as diseases, traumas, tumors or abnormalities that impact these areas. They may also treat nerve issues that affect the movement of the head or neck and the senses. Although it is more appropriate to see an allergist, some ENT doctors will also help with allergies that impact the ears, nose and throat. An ENT doctor deals specifically with health problems that can be treated and they do not have the same expertise that an audiologist does when it comes to treating hearing loss. 

When should you see an ENT doctor or an audiologist? 

An audiologist deals primarily with hearing loss issues. If you find that you are having difficulty following conversations or hearing the TV without turning the volume right up, this is a sign that you are experiencing hearing loss. If you book an appointment with an audiologist, they will run a series of tests to determine the cause of your hearing loss. If the hearing loss is caused by aging or perhaps long-term exposure to loud noises, they will recommend treatments and strategies for managing hearing loss, such as hearing aids. However, in some cases, an audiologist may discover an underlying issue that is causing your hearing loss and they will then refer you to an ENT doctor. 

You need to see an ENT doctor when you have a medical condition that affects your ears, nose or throat. For example, an audiologist will refer you to an ENT doctor if you have an ear infection that is causing problems with your hearing. While an audiologist can help you to manage hearing loss, an ENT doctor can provide treatments and even surgery, in some cases, to resolve medical issues. They will also treat bacterial and viral infections like strep throat or tonsillitis. If you notice abnormalities like lumps and potential tumors around your ears, nose or throat, you should see an ENT doctor as well because they deal with cancer in these areas. 

If you see an ENT doctor and they determine that you do not have a medical condition and your symptoms are caused by general hearing loss, they will then refer you back to an audiologist. 

Although audiologists and ENT doctors often deal with similar problems, an ENT doctor deals with more advanced medical issues while an audiologist is an expert in diagnosing hearing loss and using technological solutions to help you manage it and live with it. 

If you are experiencing issues with your ears, nose or throat and you suspect that it may have an underlying medical cause, call at 402-397-0670 today to learn more about ENT Specialists and the different treatment options that we have available.