The Demand for the Services of an Audiologist is Growing
There is a growing demand for the specialised services provided by a qualified audiologist. While various technological advances in medicine have led to a reduction in the incidence of many other types of disorder, the incidence of hearing loss has continued to rise all over the world. Ironically, it now appears that some of these advances in technology may have also played a major role in the proliferation of auditory impairment.
One area of acute concern today is the form of deafness that is caused by acoustic shock. It has long been known that noisy working conditions present a risk and updated health and safety legislation now requires the issue of ear protectors to those working under such conditions. However, since the development of mobile music devices, repeated and lengthy exposure to loud music has seen many of those still in their early teens or even younger, experiencing substantial degrees of hearing loss. The more recent addition of in-ear headphones has served to intensify this already marked risk even further and statistics now suggest that, already, as many as 1 in 8 young people in the United States are now experiencing a measurable reduction of their auditory function.
Measuring the extent of impairment is, of course, one of the prime functions of the audiologist. These qualified healthcare professionals employ state of the art testing equipment to quantitate the extent of hearing loss and to identify those frequencies ranges within which it occurs. These measurements and their precision with which they are established are key to the correct configuration and tuning of electronic devices used in compensating selectively for those frequencies at which impairment is present. This allows for far better correction than that achieved by older devices that simply served to amplify all incoming sounds, including background noise, indiscriminately.
During a typical routine examination conducted at any of The Ear Institute clinics by one of our experienced audiologists he or she will begin with a simple physical inspection of the ear itself. Quite often, and particularly in infants and young children, the reason for the reported hearing loss can be attributed to nothing more serious than a minor ear infection. Where such a condition is confirmed, we refer the patient to an ENT specialist for treatment following which the hearing will normally be fully restored. At certain of our locations, there may even be an otolaryngologist with paediatric experience in residence.
Evaluation of the possible management options is another important role of our specialised hearing clinics and thus distinguishing between the conductive and sensorineural varieties of deafness is another important task of the audiologist. Based upon his or her conclusions, intervention by means of an amplification device alone may prove to be ineffective. In such cases, his or her observations may suggest, instead, that the more radical choice of referring the patient to a surgeon for cochlear implantation may prove to be the only option for a successful outcome.
While certain infections may give rise to permanent deafness, so too may some of the antibiotics and other medications used to treat these and other disorders as well as a variety of other chemicals commonly encountered in our modern lifestyles. All this re-affirms that the demand for audiologists will continue growing and in the process you will know to turn to The Ear Institute should you need professional assistance.