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What is the Difference Between Audiologist and ENT Doctors?

two doctors standing a well-lit medical facility

Many people are confused about whether they should see an audiologist or ENT doctor when they are experiencing issues with their hearing. This is not surprising because it isn’t always clear what the differenced are between the two. That’s why, in this post, we’re going to take the time to clear up the question ‘What is the difference between Audiologist and ENT doctors?’ once and for all.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist is a hearing healthcare professional who specializes in all things relating to the ear. This includes identifying, monitoring and treating auditory issues around the vestibular system portions of the ear.

Audiologists are trained to a high level to diagnose, manage and treat problems such as hearing loss, tinnitus and balance issues caused by inner ear problems amongst other things. It is audiologists who handle hearing aid-related issues and who should be your first port of call if you’re thinking about getting cochlear implants.

A good audiologist is there to talk to you through ear issues such as hearing loss. They are there to counsel you, manage your condition and teach you the skills you need to live a fulfilling life when you have hearing loss.

What is an ENT?

An ENT is a doctor who specializes in conditions relating to the ear, nose and throat, which is why, of course, they are informally called ENT doctors – their proper title is otolaryngologist. 

Typically, patients would be referred to the ENT doctor if they were experiencing diseases in any of the three areas they treat. They are also often the people you will need to see if you have cancers or benign tumors in your head or neck that need surgical interventions.

When should you see an audiologist?

You should see an audiologist if you have been experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus or problems with your balance as a first port of call. They are the best people to assess your condition and work out exactly what is going on with you when these are your main symptoms.

A good audiologist will conduct a hearing assessment, as well as a physical exam, to determine whether you are experiencing hearing loss or other issues related to the ear, which can be treated without more serious medical intervention.

If your audiologist was to find signs of a medical condition or disease that was causing your symptoms during their exam, they may refer you to an ENT who will be able to carry out surgery.  

When should you see an ENT?

You should see an ENT doctor if your audiologist refers you to one because they believe that you may have an illness or disease that could require a surgical intervention. You should also see an ENT doctor as a first port of call if you are experiencing swelling or pain in your ears, nose or throat. However, if they cannot find symptoms of a disease of medical condition causing your symptoms, they will most likely refer you back to an audiologist who can look for other reasons for your hearing loss/symptoms.

The bottom line

Basically, the difference between audiologists and ENT doctors is that ENT doctors are able to offer surgical interventions for your health issues, whereas audiologists are there to diagnose, manage and monitor you when you present with hearing loss. That’s why, for most people, most of the time, it is a good idea to visit an audiologist when the first symptoms of hearing loss present themselves. The vast majority of the time, audiologists can successfully diagnose the cause of hearing loss, and help you to manage it whether with coping techniques or by fitting you with hearing aids because they are experts in technology as well as hearing health, which makes. It is only when there is an underlying medical condition that the ENT doctor needs to get involved.

Of course, you should always listen to medical professionals when it comes to your health and hearing, so if you have been advised to see one professional over the other, that is what you should do.

We hope this has given you a better idea about the differences between audiologists and ENT doctors. However, we are always on hand to answer any questions you may have if you aren’t quite sure who you need to see about your hearing loss.

To talk to an experienced audiologist today, get in touch with Davis Audiology on 864-655-8300.