Did you know that 28.8 million Americans suffer from hearing loss? If you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves or you’re blaring the TV or radio so loud that it hurts other people’s ears, there’s a good chance you’re one of those individuals in need of help. Hearing loss, as the numbers indicate, is common. In fact, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimating that approximately 15 percent of American adults aged 18 and older report some trouble hearing. If you are one of those individuals, it is time to make an appointment with an audiologist.

What is an audiologist?

Before making an appointment, it is good to understand what an audiologist does and how one can help you. An audiologist is a healthcare professional who works to provide care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis and treatment of hearing, balance and other auditory disorders.

Audiologists work in many different types of facilities and settings, including nonresidential health care facilities such as private practices, hospitals and residential healthcare facilities, such as nursing homes or assisted living communities, day treatments centers or home health agencies. Some audiologists can be found in educational settings; according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, roughly 8 percent of audiologists work in schools and another 7 percent work in colleges or universities. After all, hearing loss isn’t necessarily related to age; the NIDCD reports that one in eight Americans age 12 and older have hearing loss in both ears.

What to expect from an audiologist

When you suspect you have hearing loss, it is important to understand the mechanics of the auditory system. An audiologist will teach a patient about how hearing works and why hearing loss occurs to help them better understand their hearing loss. For example, an audiologist will teach patients why they think people are mumbling, why they can hear but not understand some words or why they have difficulties hearing female or children’s voices. Moreover, an audiologist will also help teach the family on an individual’s hearing loss to help the family communicate more effectively.

Diagnosis and treatment

Along with educating a patient about the auditory system and hearing loss, an audiologist will examine, diagnose and provide treatment to an individual. During an examination, an audiologist will collect an individual’s hearing history, perform tests and interpret results in order to provide the best therapeutic options for an individual. The audiologist will work with the patient to ensure the treatment, whether its hearing aids, cochlear implants or other assistive listening device, is well understood so the patient will enjoy maximum benefits.