If you are experiencing discomfort in your ear, nose and throat or feel that your hearing has worsened lately, it is important to know which doctor to turn to: Ear nose and throat (ENT) physicians or Audiologist. The world of healthcare can be confusing, but getting the right treatment on time can make a great difference. So what is the difference between Audiologists and ENT physicians?
Short description: “The hearing and balance professional”
Goal: To improve quality of life by restoring the patient’s ability to hear and communicate.
Education: Doctoral degree in Audiology, Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)
Summary: Audiologists focus on the science of hearing. They often look at how hearing loss affects our quality of life and seek to improve it in non-intrusive ways, such as hearing instruments, counselling, and communication coaching. Audiologists also look at other issues like auditory processing disorders, ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and balance. In addition to that, our Audiologists collaborate with our Speech Language Pathologists to provide evidence-based practice and optimal patient care. This is a benefit that makes Evergreen Speech and Hearing Clinic unique.
When to go to an audiologist:
- If you are experiencing a loss in hearing ability and noticing a greater difficulty in distinguishing speech
- If you have noticed long-term gradual loss of hearing
- If you and your physician do not suspect any medical causes of hearing loss (e.g. ear infections, physical trauma to the ear, ear wax impaction etc.)
Short description: “The ear nose and throat doctor”
Goal: Diagnose and treat medical problems of the ear, nose and throat (e.g. ear infections, otosclerosis, sinus problems, etc)
Education: Medical Degree in Otolaryngology (M.D.)
Summary: ENT physicians are also called otolaryngologists. They are medical doctors/surgeons who perform a variety of procedures that include ear tube surgeries, surgical removal of tonsils, treatment of swimmer’s ear, sinusitis and more. ENT physicians also surgically treat more profound types of hearing loss that are induced by infections, trauma or benign tumors.
When to go to an ENT physician:
- If you experience a sudden decrease of hearing
- If you need earwax removal
- If you experience aural symptoms, such as ear pain, vertigo, tinnitus, or fullness in the ear
- If your physician believes your hearing loss requires a medical evaluation by an ENT
- You have additional symptoms in the ear, nose, throat, and neck areas (e.g. dizziness, sinus problems, recent onset of tinnitus, or masses in the neck/head)
Where to start
If you are unsure of which doctor to pay a visit to, start with an audiogram (hearing test). Often times, an audiogram or other diagnostic testing is required to help the ENT determine how you are hearing and in what way to guide your treatment. ESHC offers a variety of tests which allows audiologists to identify specific problem areas. These tests include comprehensive audiograms for patients of all ages, tinnitus evaluations, (central) auditory processing ((C) APD) evaluations, electrophysiologic testing, and balance assessments. After you receive your audiogram, our audiologist will explain the result and offer a treatment unique to you or, if needed, a referral to another professional (e.g. ENT) should this be necessary.