Audiology is the branch of medical science and acoustic science that investigates and applies technologies and knowledge in the field of hearing, balance, and related disorders.
The audiologists are the specialists who participate in diagnosing and treating sufferers of hearing loss and prevention of related damage.
The first step in the assessment is the interview. The clinical picture and the reliability of the patient are critical for the Audiological evaluation. In the management of tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and meniere's disease the audiologist may expose important symptoms that the Otolaryngologist missed. The most important symptom is being suicidal. A desperate patient is considering this possibility, but is hiding his thoughts.
When the medical examination of the ENT doctor is brief, and focused on objective findings, there is no appropriate atmosphere for talking about emotions. A sensitive and attentive audiologist can complete the medical evaluation of tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and meniere's disease patients by doing a complementary interview about the emotional aspect of their medical condition.
The audiologist is skilled in performing related quantitative test to his patients. For example 6 of them: (1) Hearing tests. (2) Auditory brainstem response. (3) Otoacoustic emissions. (4) Electronystagmography. (5) Videonystagmography. (6) Posturography.
There are other electro-physiologic tests that are used less frequently. Audiologist is the authority that determines if a patient hearing test is within the normal range or not. What are the pathological findings in his hearing test, in terms of frequencies (Hz) and level of intensity (dB) that are found.
If an audiologist finds that a hearing loss or vestibular mal function is present he or she are the authority to give medical advise to a patient regarding the management of his medical condition. Examples are: hearing aid, surgery, cochlear implant or just waiting and doing follow up without any medical intervention. The audiologist is skilled in performing other tests such as: tests to discriminate between different sound intensities, recognize pitch, or distinguished speech from background noise.
As was mentioned above he is able to test his patients for Auditory barinstem evoked potentials (ABR), acoustic reflex and otoacoustic emission (OAE). Tests for equilibrium are also part of the skills of the audiologist (ENG, VMG, Posturography). The audiologist should contact the otolaryngologist before he is doing the consultation.
Audiologists are knowledgeable in working with patients who need auditory and speech rehabilitation. The most common are: post surgical rehabilitation for cochlear implants, patients after cerebral infarct, new patients with hearing aids, pediatric populations with various difficulties in hearing and those who need assessment of the vestibular system.
One of the important treatments that audiologists can do in order to help tinnitus patients is the sound therapy. Masking sound can initiate a relieve and hope in the desperate tinnitus patient, and TRT (tinnitus retraining therapy) may improve the condition of some of those who can tolerate a procedure that lasts about 18 months.