If one has a trouble with hearing, first thing that comes to mind to mind is an ENT Doctor! There was a survey done in the US by a leading Hearing aid company wherein they asked random people who they will approach if they had a hearing problem. 90% of the people answered that they will approach their doctor and more specifically and ENT Doctor. Only 10% of the people were aware of the existence of Audiologist. When it comes to India even in forward cities like Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi etc the existence of Audiologists is not known to a majority of the population other than those associated with this field or those who have had a need for an audiologist in the past.
So let us put the question on you. Are you aware of difference in job roles of an ENT Doctor and an Audiologist? Let us explain..
There are two sides to a treatment, one is the medicinal and other is rehabilitative. An ENT Doctor deals with the medicinal/surgical side of the treatment whereas an audiologist deals with rehabilitative and diagnostic side of the treatment. Both ENT Doctor and Audiologists are specialists in their field and both require each other to effectively treat the patient. Whom to approach is a question indeed which is dependent on the problem of the individual.
Before any of the specialists proceed with the solution of the hearing problem, investigation is compulsory! We need to determine what kind of hearing loss is it and how much hearing loss it is. This is the job of Audiologist. So if you have no pathology i.e. infection, or ear pain etc and are generally experiencing difficulty with hearing, you must first consult an Audiologist unless you wish to spend extra money on consultations! If during investigations i.e. after doing hearing tests the audiologists determines that particular variety of hearing loss requires medicinal or surgical procedure the he shall himself recommend you to an ENT; however if it’s a hearing loss which is untreatable by medicine or surgery, then you need to go in for a hearing aid device and not matter what you may hope for, there is no other solution.
Below are conditions where you need to consult audiologist or ENT Doctor:
1. If there is a sudden hearing loss- you need immediate doses of steroids
2. If there is pain in the ear along with hearing loss
3. If there is wax in the ear and your ability to hear seems to be reduced
4. If there is an ear discharge and your ability to hear seems reduced
5. If there is an infection
6. If there is a ringing sound in the ear and your hearing power seems low as well
7. If there is a one sided hearing loss
8. If you have cold/cough and simultaneously your hearing power is low
Beauty of either of these is that before proceeding with the treatment of any of the above, the ENT Doctor shall refer you to the audiologist himself for detailed testing. However, ENT Doctor may do some examinations himself and get an idea of what may be the issue, accordingly he can direct you for a corresponding hearing test.
For any condition wherein you have a hearing loss, you can simply visit an audiologist and get yourself a hearing checkup done. Even for the above mentioned issues, a qualified audiologist can test you and recommend you to an ENT doctor thereby helping you skip a step and time. Therefore its not wrong to first consult the audiologist and then with all the reports visit an ENT Doctor.
The most irritating phenomena an audiologist or an ENT doctor face is when either of them start intruding on the others’ space. It so happens that an audiologist in order to sell his hearing aid ignores the fact that medicinal treatment may have a positive effect on the patient or the ENT doctor ignores the fact that his patient requires a hearing aid and unnecessarily procrastinating will not deliver anything. In India, the ENT doctors enjoy more privilege with the patients wherein patients go by the word of their ENT Doctor. This leads to complications in relations between audiologist and ENT Doctor as the doctor will try to guide the audiologist with rehabilitative treatment trying to maintain his repo with the patient. Unaware and un-understanding patients also give less priority to the audiologists’ words as hearing aids are not something they want to spend their money on. In the end what happens is a stalemate for the patient.
Audiology is an upcoming specialization in India and indeed is much needed. At India Speech and Hearing Centre we propagate this subject and in fact hold regular free check-up camps to spread awareness on the sense of Hearing. We are hearing professionals and consultants guiding you to the best treatment for your hearing problem.
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