Coping with Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

Hearing loss and tinnitus both affect roughly one in five people in Plano.

These individuals face challenges when it comes to following conversations.

For the unlucky ones who suffer from both, coping on a daily basis is even more difficult.

When Tinnitus & Hearing Loss Cause Problems

yoga on a rock by the ocean

Hearing loss and tinnitus often go hand in hand; there is a lot of overlap between the two, and tinnitus sufferers – already burdened by poor sleep, stress and anxiety, and problems with concentration and memory – have it doubly bad when they must also deal with hearing loss.

That ringing in the ears can become even more troublesome and difficult to control, given that most of the traditional strategies recommended for coping with tinnitus involve sound – problematic when contending with a hearing impairment.

Compounding matters is the fact that tinnitus has no cure.

That doesn’t mean you have to grimace and bear it, however; your Plano audiologist has some strategies that can help you cope when you are dealing with both tinnitus and hearing loss.

Make sure to do the following:

  • See an audiologist. Before doing anything else, see an audiologist. A hearing specialist will determine the type and severity of your hearing loss by administering a hearing exam that will allow them to pinpoint the specific frequencies affected and recommend a hearing aid that specifically targets those areas. They may even be able to treat your tinnitus if the cause is something simple, such as excess earwax or the side effect of a drug you have been prescribed. If not, they can still recommend strategies based on the severity of your tinnitus.
  • Wear hearing aids. The majority of people with hearing loss in Plano benefit from wearing hearing aids. These are designed to boost the volume of sounds in your listening environment, providing you with the ability to hear more effectively. Hearing aids don’t only help restore the frequencies affected by your hearing impairment – they can also be used to help you treat tinnitus. Turning up the volume on your aids and boosting background sounds can help mask the ringing in your ears, making your tinnitus less noticeable. Many hearing aids even come with features designed for people with tinnitus, such as white noise, music or nature sounds – all of which serve to lower the perceived volume of your tinnitus, helping your brain habituate to it so it becomes less noticeable.
  • Learn to relax…literally. Stress can cause tinnitus to flare up, making symptoms worse. Learning to relax will help calm you down and quiet the ringing in your ears. Try home remedies such as a hot bath before bedtime, giving yourself a trigger point massage using a tennis ball or foam roller and trying progressive muscle relaxation, a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing different groups of muscles for 10-20 seconds at a time, beginning with your toes and working your way up to your head. Another helpful trick is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise:
    • Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth.
    • Exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
    • Close your mouth and inhale through your nose while counting to four.
    • Hold your breath and count to seven.
    • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound and counting to eight.
    • Repeat the cycle three more times.
  • Get rid of tinnitus triggers. For many people, tinnitus waxes and wanes, much like the moon and tides. It will come on strong, level off and then increase in intensity and volume – and never when you expect it to. Try keeping a journal charting things like diet, exercise, lifestyle and environment to help pinpoint potential tinnitus triggers. If you are able to identify those, take the steps necessary to reduce their influence on your life.

Your Plano audiologist can provide you with more tips for coping with tinnitus and hearing loss. Schedule an appointment today if you’d like additional information.


Related Hearing Loss Posts:


Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

Plano
4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Three Life Hacks for Tinnitus Patients

Tinnitus is common in Plano. About one in five Texas residents experiences a ringing or other sensation in one or both ears. For some it’s barely noticeable, but others perceive it as a full-time distraction that impacts their quality of life. For these people, living with tinnitus can be challenging – but we have a few tips that can help ease your suffering.

Side Effects of Tinnitus

large bell

Whether tinnitus is an occasional nuisance or a constant bother, you are sure to experience at least a few side effects. People with tinnitus in Plano often deal with anxiety, stress and irritability, all of which can make symptoms worse. It’s a vicious circle that many find tough to break. The worse your tinnitus, the more of an impact it has on your life. Many find tinnitus interferes with sleep, causing daytime fatigue, memory problems and difficulty concentrating. Jobs and relationships can suffer.

There is no cure for tinnitus, but we have compiled some “life hacks” that should make living with a ringing in your ears more bearable.

  1. High-fidelity earplugs. Tinnitus may be mild at first but can progress over time. This makes preserving your remaining hearing a top priority. Be cognizant of the damage noise causes and protect your hearing by wearing earplugs whenever you participate in activities where harmful noise levels are likely to occur. Earplugs sold in drugstores do offer protection, but they cause sounds to appear distorted or muffled. High-fidelity earplugs solve this problem by utilizing filters that reduce decibel levels evenly across the hearing spectrum. This allows you to participate in conversations more easily and enjoy music. One-size-fits-all high-fidelity earplugs can be purchased online or in select retail stores, but you’ll receive better protection, not to mention a more comfortable fit, with custom earplugs crafted from molds of your ear canals. Your Plano audiologist can do this for you. Custom earplugs will cost a bit more, but can you really put a price tag on preserving your hearing?
  2. White noise. Many people with tinnitus in Plano utilize white noise therapy as a way to mask, or cover up, the ringing in their ears. White noise is a random assortment of sounds with flat spectral density throughout the audible frequency range; because there are so many different frequencies being employed, white noise is great at masking other sounds – including tinnitus. You can find white noise machines that offer falling rain, ocean waves and other ambient sounds at many specialty retailers or download an app for your smartphone – a wide variety are available for both iPhone and Android users. Or simply switch on an air-conditioner or fan to achieve the same effect. For the best results, set your white noise volume a little lower than the ringing in your ears; partial masking can help your brain habituate more easily and make your tinnitus less noticeable.
  3. Assemble a tinnitus kit. Tinnitus tends to be unpredictable, worse at certain times and less noticeable during others. In order to be prepared for any possibility when heading out, put together a “tinnitus kit” containing supplies that will help you cope with tinnitus when your symptoms come on strong. Include items such as medications, earplugs, earbuds or headphones and hearing aids. Include a list of emergency contacts and be sure to add your Plano audiologist’s information.

For more strategies on managing tinnitus symptoms, contact your Plano hearing specialist.


Related Hearing Loss Posts:


Our Plano Audiologist Office Location

Plano
4012 W Park Blvd
Plano, TX 75093
(972) 612-0943

Navigating Plano Roads Safely with Hearing Loss


The Beatles once sang, “Baby, you can drive my car.”

But if you’ve got hearing loss in Plano, don’t even think about sliding behind the wheel without your hearing aids.

There are other steps you can take to ensure a safe trip from Point A to Point B, as well.

Hearing is Essential to Safe Driving

person driving a car with hearing loss

Having good vision is imperative for Plano drivers, but hearing is equally important.

Your safety depends upon it!

You’ll need to be alert to warning sounds such as emergency vehicle sirens and honking horns.

The following tips will help ensure a safe driving experience for those with a hearing impairment.

  • Visit your Plano audiologist. Ignoring signs of hearing loss won’t make your impairment disappear. If you are experiencing symptoms, make an appointment with an audiologist in Plano as soon as possible. Untreated hearing loss significantly impacts your quality of life and increases your risk of developing a number of physical, social and psychological problems.
  • Avoid distracted driving. Distracted driving was responsible for 3,500 traffic fatalities in 2016 and 390,000 injuries in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The most common driving distractions include:
    • Music. Loud music interferes with your concentration and can prevent you from hearing warning sounds. Keep the volume turned down when listening to music and other forms of entertainment – podcasts and audio books can be every bit as distracting.
    • Passengers. It’s nice to have company when you’re driving, but chatty passengers can distract you from driving. Let them know that, as much as you enjoy chitchat about the weather and the latest pennant race, your hearing impairment demands you pay close attention to the road.
    • Open windows. Cranking open the windows on a warm day can let in a nice, refreshing breeze, but wind and road noise may interfere with your ability to stay alert. Turn on the air-conditioner instead of rolling down windows, opening the moonroof, etc.
    • Cellphones. When it comes to driving distractions, cellphones are public enemy #1. More traffic accidents can be attributed to inappropriate cellphone use than anything else. Keep your phone in your pocket; there is no call that can’t wait until you reach your destination (with the exception of an emergency). Texting is even more dangerous.
  • Rely on visual cues. Good vision can help compensate for hearing loss. Schedule regular eye exams and, if you require corrective lenses, always wear them when driving. Additional tips to help with visual acuity include:
    • Full-view rearview mirrors. Full-view rearview mirrors allow you to see more and are especially handy when backing up and navigating parking lots and other places with a lot of pedestrians.
    • Backup cameras. Many of today’s cars and trucks come with dashboard-mounted backup cameras; these help alert you to vehicles, pedestrians and other hazards you might have trouble spotting on your own.

For more tips on driving safely with hearing loss, contact your Plano hearing specialist.

Side Effects of Mumps Include Hearing Loss


Most people with hearing loss in Plano can attribute their condition to a common cause such as aging or noise exposure. There are other factors that can lead to impaired hearing, though – including mumps.

Vaccinations are Important

Person in the hospital with an IV

Mumps has made a resurgence in the U.S. over the past few years, thanks in large part to the “anti-vaxxer” movement that has led to a small but growing number of parents refusing to have their children immunized.

The number of cases has risen from around 1,000 in 2015 to over 6,000 the past few years. Considering this once-common childhood disease was considered all but eradicated decades ago, this is an alarming trend that can have serious health consequences.

Mumps is a viral infection belonging to the same family as measles. It is highly contagious, with the most frequent method of transmission being infected saliva usually spread by coughing and sneezing.

Mumps Exposure and Symptoms

Once you have been exposed, symptoms appear about two weeks later and include swollen salivary glands on one or both sides of the face, pain when chewing or swallowing, fever, headache and muscle aches, weakness, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Complications such as inflammation of the testicles, ovaries, breasts, pancreas and brain can occur; other rare but serious side effects include fluid buildup around the brain and spinal cord and hearing loss.

How Mumps Causes Hearing Loss

The link between mumps and hearing loss isn’t entirely understood, but it is believed that the virus can attack the cochlea, auditory nerve, brainstem and stria vascularis, affecting blood supply to the inner ear and damaging the nerve cells responsible for hearing.

Those with hearing loss resulting from mumps – such as Hollywood actress Holly Hunter, who contracted the disease as a child – are usually affected in only one ear (in Holly’s case, her left). Inner ear damage is permanent, so once the hair cells are destroyed, they do not grow back and can’t be repaired. Fortunately, only 1-4 percent of people infected with mumps in Plano will go on to develop hearing loss as a result.

But why take that chance, when a vaccine is readily available and highly effective?  The MMR vaccine protects against mumps, measles and rubella, all three of which can cause hearing loss. It has been available since 1971 and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person receiving two doses will reduce their risk of contracting the disease by 88 percent. Your child should receive their first immunization between the ages of 12 and 15 months, with a second dose at 4 through 6 years of age. A booster shot in the teen years is also recommended.

For more information on preventing hearing loss from mumps, make a call to your Plano audiologist today.

Respect Your Ears for Added Years


One out of every five adults will be diagnosed with hearing loss in Plano at some point in their lives. This will inevitably change their lives as they adjust to communication challenges and other daily obstacles. Fortunately, the majority of these individuals – 90 percent – will benefit from using hearing aids. Not only will hearing aids reduce the burden of hearing aids – they can also lead to a longer life, according to new research.

5 Reasons to Wear Hearing Aids

A metal number 5 placed on top of a table

Hearing aids are considered the gold standard in hearing loss treatment for one very simple reason: they work!

Studies from around the world have shown many benefits to wearing them including improved communication ability, increased participation in social activities, better personal and professional relationships and a reduced risk for many physical, psychological and social conditions.

Hands down, they are the best tool for improving your quality of life if you have hearing loss in Plano.

Best of all? Hearing aids can help add years to your life. Here’s how:

  • Hearing aids improve your balance. When you have hearing loss, your brain must work harder to process sound. Doing so is costly: it must divert resources that would otherwise be used in other areas, such as the balance system. Good hearing is important in preventing falls, one of the leading causes of injury and death in the elderly. Studies show your risk of falling is three times higher if you have mild hearing loss; the more severe your impairment, the bigger your risk. Hearing aids allow your brain to focus more on balance, making it less likely you’ll experience a fall.
  • Hearing aids keep you safer in emergencies. Most people with hearing loss experience a decline in their ability to hear higher-frequency sounds, such as those emitted by emergency vehicles and smoke detectors. Being unable to hear these warning signals and others, such as car horns, increases your risk of injury or death in an emergency situation. Hearing aids are programmed to target the frequencies you have trouble with, so wearing them keeps you safer.
  • Hearing aids lower your risk of depression. People with hearing loss experience depression rates that are 8 percent higher than those found in individuals with normal hearing, according to research by the National Council on Aging. Not only is hearing loss emotionally devastating; it impacts your everyday way of life and can cause a reduction in social engagement. Hearing aids help counter these negative effects.
  • Hearing aids improve social interaction. Individuals with hearing loss are less socially active, due in large part to the anxiety and fatigue their impairment causes. Withdrawal and isolation are common, factors that are associated with higher mortality rates. When you wear hearing aids, your brain doesn’t have to work as hard, making social activities much more enjoyable – and lowering your risk of premature death.
  • Hearing aids reduce cognitive decline. There is a positive correlation between hearing loss and cognitive decline. We’ve already mentioned how your brain must work harder to process sound; this leaves fewer resources available for important functions such as memory and cognition – reasons why dementia rates are higher in people with untreated hearing loss. Wearing hearing aids allows your brain to focus on these key areas, reducing the likelihood you will experience cognitive decline and lowering your risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – both of which can lead to an earlier death.

If you have hearing loss but aren’t wearing hearing aids, we encourage you to talk to your Plano audiologist to learn more about how these devices can help improve – and lengthen! – your life.

The Tinnitus Cycle


Statistics show that about one out of every five adults in Plano experience tinnitus. Commonly referred to as a ringing in the ears, tinnitus affects everybody differently. It may be an occasional nuisance or a full-time disruption to your daily life. Regardless of its impact on your daily life, tinnitus follows a well-established cycle – one which you’ll want to break in order to enjoy a higher quality of life.

What Causes Tinnitus?

cathedral bells

While tinnitus typically begins with hearing loss, it is not exclusively an auditory problem. It is a result of neurological changes within the auditory system and the parts of the brain that influence conscious attention and emotional state.

No single explanation applies to all cases, but the process outlined below describes one of the more commonly accepted theories about what causes tinnitus.

Your Balance

When your natural balance is upset by hearing loss, the neurological activity is altered; this altered activity is then interpreted by the brain as sound. This results in whistling or ringing sounds commonly known as tinnitus.

Tinnitus Causes

Tinnitus most often results from hearing loss caused by exposure to excessive or loud noises. Other common causes include aging, ototoxic drugs, Temporo-mandibular joint disorder (TMJ), depression, anxiety, Lyme disease or thyroid disorders, as well as ear infections or wax in the ear.

Breaking the Cycle of Tinnitus

  • Normally, background neurological activity in the brain is covered up by everyday sounds.
  • Neurological changes may cause the perceived sound to be more noticeable and disturbing.
  • For some people, the presence of tinnitus is so troubling, the brain treats it as important and focuses on it, increasing awareness.
  • This increased awareness can lead to stress and anxiety, resulting in further enhancement by the emotional centers of the brain and further amplification of the tinnitus.
  • Additionally, the brain may try to compensate for the hearing loss by “turning up” the sensitivity of the hearing system. This not only amplifies the tinnitus but can also make ordinary sounds uncomfortably loud for some people, further adding to stress and anxiety.

The result is a cycle of symptoms that can be self-reinforcing, leading to progressive worsening of the tinnitus over time. These factors have made tinnitus very difficult to treat in the past. While there is no cure for tinnitus, there are ways to manage symptoms and help break the cycle. Popular solutions include masking techniques such as white noise therapy; counseling; lifestyle modifications and prescription drugs.

One of the best solutions might be right at your fingertips. If you have hearing loss and wear hearing aids, turning up the volume to boost background noises will help distract your brain from tinnitus.

If you are suffering from tinnitus in Plano and looking to break the cycle, a consultation with an audiologist can help you find relief.

When Noise from Toys Harms Girls and Boys

Children in Plano will wake up on Christmas morning eager to tear into their gifts. Parents in Plano will wake up on Christmas morning reaching for the earplugs, because – let’s face it – many of those toys beneath the tree can be loud and annoying. Some of them, it turns out, pose a real danger to kids, with the possibility of causing permanent hearing damage.

Toys with Dangerous Decibel Levels

pile of wrapped presents

In the holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” Ralphie famously asks for a Red Ryder BB gun but his mother objects because she’s afraid he might shoot an eye out. BB guns aren’t the only toys with the potential to cause harm to children in Plano. Many of the toys being offered by manufacturers this holiday season are dangerously loud. The threshold for safe noise exposure is 85 decibels; anything louder can cause irreversible damage to the tiny hair cells in the cochlea responsible for hearing.

The following toys all represent hazards. Decibel levels are listed, as well; all measurements were taken as if the child had their ear next to the toy’s speaker.

  • Black & Decker Junior Leaf Blower (113.8 dB)
  • Marvel Avengers Infinity War Infinity Gauntlet Electronic Fist (108.5 dB)
  • My Little Pony Singing Rainbow Dash (108.4 dB)
  • Vtech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Minnie Convertible (107 dB)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi Bladebuilders Electronic Riot Baton (106.3 dB)
  • toys Woofer Hound Dog Guitar (106.2 dB)
  • Marvel Avengers Infinity War Mission Tech Iron Man (106.1 dB)
  • Fisher-Price Sing & Learn Music Player (105.6 dB)
  • Fisher-Price Bright Beats Spin & Crawl Tumble Ball (104 dB)
  • Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Busy Activity Home (103.7 dB)
  • toys Meowsic Keyboard (103.4 dB)
  • toys You Turns Steering Wheel (103.3 dB)
  • Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Sort Snail Pail (103 dB)
  • Marvel Black Panther Slash & Strike Erik Killmonger Figure (101.6 dB)
  • Fisher-Price Shimmer & Shine Tummy Rubs Nazboo (100.7 dB)
  • VTech Pull and Discover Activity Elephant (100.3 dB)
  • VTech Drill & Learn Toolbox (99 dB)
  • Spider-Man Homecoming Super Sense Spider-Man (99 dB)
  • VTech Sort & Discover Drum (98.8 dB)
  • Playskool Friends Sesame Street Tickle Me Elmo (90 dB)

This list is not all-encompassing; other toys might also damage your child’s hearing. If possible, check the packaging for warnings or go online and seek out information on decibel levels. User forums such as Reddit are good sources for info. If in doubt, talk to your Plano audiologist about safe toys for your child this holiday season.

 

App-y Holidays!


The holiday season is filled with family gatherings and good cheer, but those with hearing loss can feel left out. To avoid slipping into a seasonal depression, there are a number of smartphone apps that can help those in Plano with hearing loss enjoy the festiveness of the season. Whether you are Team Apple or an Android fan, there is an app perfect for you!

iOS Hearing Apps

Cellphone on a table

Apple has long been on the cutting edge of technology. iPhone users have some great apps they can download; top picks include the following.

  • Test Your Hearing. Seeking a simple but effective way to test your hearing? This app’s got you covered. Simply push a red button every time you hear a sound. At the end of the test, you’ll be given a “hearing age” assessment based on your score. If your approximate hearing age is significantly older than your actual age, you might be experiencing hearing loss.
  • Bose® Hear. If you use Bose® Headphones™, this companion app helps enhance conversations, letting you hear more clearly in noisy environments. It also allows you to stream music and phone calls directly from your phone.
  • TapTap. Deaf and hard of hearing users won’t miss audio cues with the TapTap app. It causes your phone to flash and vibrate, alerting you to sounds that might otherwise go undetected by your hearing aids.
  • Braci. Similar to TapTap, Braci lets you record sounds in your home and converts them to visual and sensory notifications and alerts. Doorbells, smoke alarms, phone calls, and more can all be programmed, giving you a sense of security and peace of mind.
  • Pedius. Taking advantage of synthesis and speech-recognition technology, Pedius allows those who are deaf or hearing-impaired to make phone calls. Built-in voice recognition software translates speech, converting it to text and eliminating the need for third-party translation services.

Android Hearing Apps

Android aficionados have plenty to crow about, too. Excellent apps for those with hearing loss include:

  • Hearing Test. Relying on pure tone audiometry – the most common hearing exam in most audiology offices – and predefined calibrations, this app measures the quietest sounds you are able to hear to accurately determine your hearing threshold.
  • AllDeaf. This social networking site for the deaf, hard of hearing, and ASL users lets you post messages to the All Deaf forum, upload pictures, and have private conversations with like-minded users.
  • Sound Alert. Made by the folks behind Braci, this app records sounds in your home environment and converts them to visual and sensory notification alerts, turning your smartphone into an alerting device, providing safety and comfort.
  • Ava. This app relies on your smartphone’s microphone to pick up sounds and translate them instantly into word-for-word captioning and subtitles, giving you the ability to participate fully in conversations. Ava utilizes AI technology to “learn” from mistakes; simply highlight incorrect words and you can teach Ava to get them right the next time.
  • Easy Talk. This transcribing app utilizes voice recognition software to transcribe conversations. Its offline functionality gives you access in areas with poor cell service and is available in both free and pro versions.
  • Sprint Relay. Sometimes a traditional relay service is your best bet. Sprint’s app allows you to type what you want to say to an operator, who will then relay the message to the person you are calling and provide a typed response.

With new apps constantly hitting the marketplace, check with your Plano audiologist for more recommendations this holiday season.

 

How Do Hearing Tests Work?


Unlike social studies quizzes, there are no multiple-choice answers in a hearing test. You can’t get lucky and guess your way to a passing grade! But if you’re one of the approximately 20 percent of Plano residents experiencing hearing loss, you’ll need to undergo hearing testing in order to come up with a treatment solution.

October is National Audiology Awareness Month, an opportunity for your Plano audiologist to spread the word about the audiology profession and help you prevent hearing loss. We’re taking the opportunity to let you know how hearing tests work.

Hearing Tests, as in, Plural

Hearing test

If your audiologist suspects hearing loss, you will be given a hearing evaluation, which consists of a series of individual hearing tests. The ear consists of three parts (the outer, middle, and inner ear); because damage can occur in any of these sections, and treatment differs based on which part of the ear is affected, multiple hearing tests are usually necessary as each focuses on a specific and separate part of the ear.

Hearing tests are quick, easy, safe, and painless. They are usually administered in a soundproof booth and the results – which are plotted on a chart called an audiogram – will indicate your hearing ability at different frequencies, enabling your audiologist to determine the type and degree of your hearing loss.

Common Hearing Tests

The most common hearing tests administered in Plano to assess your hearing loss are described below.

  • Air Conduction Test. Sometimes referred to as pure tone audiometry, this test requires you to wear headphones and raise a hand, push a button, or give a verbal answer in response to tones of different volumes and frequencies. Your responses determine how well you can hear at various frequencies, an indication of whether your outer, middle, or inner ear is damaged.
  • Bone Conduction Test. Bone conduction testing is similar to the air conduction test, but instead of wearing headphones, a small device is placed behind your ears that emits vibrations designed to stimulate your cochlea. Your response indicates how well sound is able to travel through your ears.
  • Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR). In an ABR test, electrodes are attached to your head, scalp or earlobes. A series of clicking noises is sent through headphones you’ll be waring, and the electrodes measure brainwave activity in response to these sounds. ABR testing is designed primarily to measure hearing loss occurring in the inner ear.
  • Speech Testing. Speech testing, sometimes called word recognition testing, measures your speech reception abilities. You will be given different words and phrases at varying volume levels and asked to repeat them back to your tester. Testing is administered in both quiet and noisy backgrounds.
  • Otoacoustic Emissions (OAEs). OAE testing involves a probe containing a microphone and speaker that is placed inside your ear canal. Sound is generated; this should stimulate the hair cells of the inner ear to vibrate in response, producing their own faint sound. If hearing loss exceeds 25-30 decibels, no otoacoustic emissions will be produced.

If you have any questions about hearing tests, your Plano audiologist will be happy to discuss them in further detail.

What Does an Audiologist Do?


If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with hearing loss in Plano, you can expect to become pretty well acquainted with your audiologist. Prior to your diagnosis, if you thought of an audiologist at all, you probably pictured somebody who wore a white coat and who peered into your ears with a lighted instrument. Guess what? Not all audiologists dress in white, and they do a lot more than look inside your ears. Since you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your audiologist’s office, an understanding of everything this person does may prove helpful as you navigate through the challenges of living with less than perfect hearing.

Definition of an Audiologist

An audiologist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of hearing and balance disorders. The majority of audiologists possess a Doctorate in Audiology (Au.D.) from an accredited university. All receive in-depth training in the prevention, identification, assessment, and treatment of a wide range of hearing and balance disorders. They are required to complete an internship, pass a national competency examination and obtain professional certification and licensing in the state where they wish to practice. It’s pretty obvious your audiologist has more than just a passing interest in ears and hearing to have devoted so much time to their studies!

The Role of an Audiologist

Audiologist helping a woman fit her hearing aids

Your audiologist in Plano does a lot! His or her duties include any (or all) of the following on any given day:

  • Identify, test, diagnose, and manage hearing and balance disorders and tinnitus
  • Counsel and educate patients and their families on hearing health, treatment and management strategies, and methods for improving communication.
  • Assess candidacy for hearing aids, cochlear implants, and implantable hearing devices.
  • Administer audiologic rehabilitation programs including speech reading, language development, and communication skills.
  • Evaluate and manage patients with central auditory processing disorders.
  • Design and implement hearing conservation programs.
  • Supervise and conduct newborn hearing screenings.
  • Recommend, dispense, fit, and program hearing aids and assistive listening devices.
  • Examine the ear canals and eardrum, removing excess earwax, and making custom molds from ear impressions.
  • Assist surgeons with medical procedures involving the ears.

Texas audiologists work in a wide variety of settings. They may practice in hospitals, clinics, educational facilities, hearing aid dispensaries, private practices, and VA hospitals, among other places.

The next time you visit with your Plano audiologist, you might just have a better understanding of the many hats this individual wears!