Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Audiology?
Audiology (from Latin audīre, “to hear”; and from Greek -λογία, -logia) is the branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders. Its practitioners, who treat those with hearing loss and proactively prevent related damage are audiologists.
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a person with formal training in anatomy and physiology, hearing aids, cochlear implants, electrophysiology, acoustics, psychophysics, neurology, counseling and sign language.
An Audiologist usually graduates with one of the following qualifications (MSc(Audiology), AuD, or PhD), depending on the program.
An Audiologist employs various testing strategies (e.g. hearing tests, otoacoustic emission measurements, videonystagmography, and electrophysiologic tests), audiologists aim to determine whether someone can hear within the normal range, and if not, which portions of hearing (high, middle, or low frequencies) are affected and to what degree. If an audiologist determines that a hearing loss or vestibular abnormality is present he or she will provide recommendations to a patient as to what options (e.g. hearing aid, cochlear implants, surgery, appropriate medical referrals) may be of assistance.
In addition, the audiologist must be licensed or registered by their state (in 47 states) to practice audiology.
What is a Hearing Instrument Dealer?
As defined by the Kentucky Legislature, specifically the Kentucky Licensing Board for Hearing Instrument Specialists, under the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 334.000. KRS 334.050 defines qualifications of applicant for licensure as:
“An applicant for licensure under this section shall pay a fee established by the board by the promulgation of an administrative regulation and shall show to the board that he:
- Is a person of good moral character;
- Is twenty-one (21) years of age or older;
- Has a minimum of a high school diploma or general education development certificate;
- Is a citizen of the United States or has status as a legal alien;
- Is free of contagious or infectious disease; and
- Has completed the apprenticeship requirements of the formal education as provided by KRS 334.090″ (effective July 14, 1992)
And under KRS 334.060 Examination for licensure is defined as “not to include degree of competence required of a physician or audiologist.”
What is an Otolaryngology Technician?
Officially known as the Certificate Program for Otolaryngology Personnel (CPOP), this is a three-phase training program to teach otolaryngology office personnel basic hearing testing. In this curriculum, allied health professionals learn to function as part of the hearing healthcare team under the supervision of an otolaryngologist.
Otologic technicians will allow audiologists the opportunity to provide advanced hearing and balance services and focus on challenging patients. For practices with no audiologist, basic testing can be provided at the time of a visit. One emphasis of the training is for the trainee to learn his/her limitations.
Each CPOP registrant must be sponsored by an otolaryngologist, who will provide guidance and oversight.
To maximize the learning experience training is provided in three phases: Self-Study, Hands-on Workshop, and a supervisory period. Completing all three phases will require a commitment of seven-months to one-year by the participant, depending on the level of experience.
The three phases are defined as:
During this phase the student gains a basic understanding of hearing and vestibular anatomy, physiology, and testing at the their own pace. This section entails reading assignments, quizzes, and an open book exam. A passing score on the open book exam is needed for the participant to attend the hands-on workshop.
The two and a half day hands-on training workshop combines lectures and hands-on demonstrations that build on the reading material. Attendees will perform otoscopic examinations, tuning fork tests, pure tone air and bone conduction tests with and without masking, speech recognition threshold and word recognition tests with and without masking, and tympanometry. The workshop also includes an ENG demonstration.
The six-month supervisory period begins with the completion of the hands-on workshop. Log books with testing performance procedures are provided to participants to record progress. Each procedure must be performed the indicated number of times during the six-month period. The sponsoring otolaryngologist attests that the sponsored participant can successfully complete each procedure without assistance. At the end of the six-month period log books are submitted to the AAO-HNSF and a certificate of knowledge is awarded.
What is an Otolaryngologist?
Otolaryngology or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) is the branch of medicine and surgery that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the head and neck.
Types of Hearing Aids
There are many sizes or styles of hearing aids. The degree of the hearing loss, power and options required, manual dexterity abilities, cost factors, and cosmetic concerns are some of the factors that will determine the style the patient will choose.
Digital Hearing Aid Technology
The term DIGITAL is used so often today, it can be confusing. When the term “digital” is used while referring to hearing aids, it generally means the hearing aid is 100% digital programming and processing. In other words, the hearing aid is indeed a “complete computer”.
How do I know if I have Hearing Loss?
Hearing loss occurs to many people. Hearing loss can be due to heriditary factors, exposure to loud noise, certain medications, infections, head or ear trauma, congenital (birth or prenatal) factors, diseases, as well as a number of other causes.
The only way to know definitively if you have hearing loss is to have a thorough hearing evaluation by a licensed Audiologist.
What causes Tinnitus?
Tinnitus can be perceived in one or both ears or in the head. It is usually described as a ringing noise, but in some patients, it takes the form of a high-pitched whining, electric buzzing, hissing, humming, tinging or whistling sound, or as ticking, clicking, roaring, “crickets” or “tree frogs” or “locusts (cicadas)”, tunes, songs, beeping, sizzling, sounds that slightly resemble human voices or even a pure steady tone like that heard during a hearing test. It has also been described as a “wooshing” sound, as of wind or waves.
Tinnitus can be intermittent, or it can be continuous, in which case it can be the cause of great distress. In some individuals, the intensity can be changed by shoulder, head, tongue, jaw, or eye movements.
Tinnitus affects about 1 in 5 people. Tinnitus isn’t a condition itself — it’s a symptom of an underlying condition. Most people with tinnitus have some degree of hearing loss, in that they are often unable to hear clearly external sounds that occur within the same range of frequencies as their “phantom sounds”.
There are many theories on causes of tinnitus. Many describe it as a phantom sound. We know it’s real, but we are medically unable to determine the source.
What is Dizziness?
Dizziness is a symptom not a disease. It may be defined as a sensation of unsteadiness, imbalance, or disorientation in relation to an individual’s surroundings.
What is Otitis Externa?
Also known as “swimmer’s ear” otitis externa refers to an infection of the ear canal, the tube leading from the outside opening of the ear in towards the eardrum. The most common cause is a bacterial infection. Otitis externa most often occurs in the summer months, when people are frequently swimming in pools and lakes. Continually exposing the ear canal to moisture may cause significant loss of cerumen. The delicate skin of the ear canal, unprotected by cerumen, retains moisture and becomes irritated. Without cerumen, the ear canal stops being appropriately acidic, which allows bacteria the opportunity to multiply.
Other conditions predisposing to otitis externa include the use of cotton swabs to “clean” the ear. This pushes cerumen and normal skin debris back into the ear canal, instead of allowing the ear canal’s normal cleaning mechanism to work, which would ordinarily move accumulations of cerumen and debris out of the ear. Also, putting other items into the ear can scratch the canal, making it more susceptible to infection.
The first symptom of otitis externa is often itching of the ear canal. Eventually, the ear begins to feel extremely painful. Any touch, movement, or pressure on the outside of the structure of the ear canal may cause severe pain. If the ear canal is sufficiently swollen, hearing may be muffled.
What is the Eustachian Tube?
The Eustachian tube (/juːˌsteɪ.ʃənˈtjuːb/, also auditory tube or pharyngotympanic tube) is a tube that links the nasopharynx to the middle ear. It is a part of the middle ear. In adult humans the Eustachian tube is approximately 35 mm long. Under normal circumstances, the human Eustachian tube is closed, but it can open to let a small amount of air through to prevent damage by equalizing pressure between the middle ear and the atmosphere. Pressure differences cause temporary conductive hearing loss by decreased motion of the tympanic membrane and ossicles of the ear. Various methods of ear clearing such as yawning, swallowing, or chewing gum, may be used intentionally to open the tube and equalize pressures. When this happens, humans hear a small popping sound, an event familiar to aircraft passengers, scuba divers, or drivers in mountainous regions.
How Should I Clean My Ears?
The use of cotton swabs to “clean” the ear pushes cerumen and normal skin debris back into the ear canal, instead of allowing the ear canal’s normal cleaning mechanism to work, which would ordinarily move accumulations of cerumen and debris out of the ear. Also, putting other items into the ear can scratch the canal, making it more susceptible to infection.