If you or a family member suspect that you have a hearing problem or a balance problem then an audiologist will usually be involved to assess the problem and also may be involved in providing the treatment you need.
What is audiology?
Audiology is an important part of the assessment and management of hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems. Audiology is usually used alongside other assessments, tests and treatments that may be provided by your GP or by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.
Audiology will help to determine whether your condition might be treatable. If your condition is not treatable, audiology may provide help such as providing hearing aids or balance therapy.
Therefore audiology includes:
- Complete hearing tests.
- Fitting, adjustment, and maintenance of hearing aids.
- Treatment for balance disorders and ringing in the ears (tinnitus).
- Hearing and speech rehabilitation.
What is an audiologist?
An audiologist is a professional who diagnoses and treats hearing and balance problems for adults and children of all ages. Audiologists work in a variety of areas, including hospitals, private practices, schools, colleges and universities, GP surgeries and rehabilitation centres, and long-term and residential healthcare facilities.
Audiologists have extensive training in sound reproduction, which is critical to the accurate fitting and adjustment of hearing aids.
If an audiologist finds that a significant hearing or balance problem is present then they can help to provide recommendations for interventions or rehabilitation (eg, hearing aids, cochlear implants, or a referral to an appropriate medical specialist for further assessment).
All audiologists should be appropriately qualified and registered:
- Audiologists need to complete a three-year NHS Practitioner Training Programme in healthcare science (audiology).
- The Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) is a three-year BSc Honours undergraduate training scheme that includes work-based and academic learning.
- An audiologist working in private practice needs an audiology degree approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).
- It is recommended to see an audiologist who is on an accredited register such as the Academy for Healthcare Science or the Registration Council for Clinical Physiologists.
Further reading and references
Find an Audiologist; Professional Standards Authority