Certified Audiologists are essential to the management of Hearing Loss
Certified audiologists are required to provide a wide range of services to their patients. Although the focus of their attention is confined to the evaluation and treatment of people who may be experiencing hearing loss, the various tasks that are involved in this undertaking are numerous and often complex. Accordingly, these specialised, healthcare professionals require both intensive in-depth training and sound practical experience.
In South Africa, the requirement is a 4-year degree, which may be a Bachelor of Science in Audiology, a BCom in Pathology with Audiology as the speciality, or either a BA or BSc in Speech and Hearing Therapy. In order to practice their profession, certified audiologists are also required to register with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).
As healthcare providers, the bulk of their responsibility is devoted to the detection and assessment of hearing loss and in determining its cause which, in turn will tend to influence its management. Following the invention of the audiometer in 1920, there have been substantial advances in this technology and, since the ‘50s, a marked increase in those entering the profession.
Today’s state-of-the-art instruments now provide an extremely accurate graphical record of those frequencies within the audible range at which a patient may be experiencing significant impairment. Armed with this data, certified audiologists are able to determine the most appropriate way forward which, in the majority of cases, will be to supply and fit a hearing aid.
Where older devices amplified all sounds uniformly, today these healthcare professional are able to consult the graphical data or audiogram and tune the modern aid as required. This serves to enhance those frequencies most affected, while playing down those which are unaffected or less so. This restores the normal balance of sounds which, in turn, enables the wearer to discriminate between them more readily. Given the additional benefits provided by modern speech processors, the results can be life-changing.
The purview of certified audiologists is not confined to hearing loss and its management, it also extends to include assessment for cochlear implantation and rehabilitation, as well as providing advice on hearing conservation and the supply of protective devices. The investigation of vestibular malfunctions of the ear is also an important aspect of their services and requires them to perform balance assessments and to evaluate dizziness, as well as providing the training required to rehabilitate those patients who are confirmed as affected.
Although tinnitus may be a precursor of deafness, it will frequently accompany it and will most often be remedied by a hearing aid, this is not always the case. In these circumstances, certified audiologists also have the necessary training to assist sufferers with management strategies, advice about sound enrichment techniques, as well as with the supply of white noise generators. These hearing specialists are also required to conduct a preliminary otoscopic examination of the ear before proceeding with hearing tests. Given the clinical component of their training, they are also able to refer patients to a medical doctor or an ENT specialist where they see signs that a medical or surgical intervention may prove necessary.
In South Africa, advanced audiology services are provided through our nationwide network of Ear Institute clinics, where our cutting-edge technology and experienced, certified audiologists await your needs.