What is the Difference Between Audiologist and ENT Doctors?

three doctors standing in a medical office

If you have an issue with your ear and hearing health, then knowing where to go to have it looked at, diagnosed, and treated if necessary is important. However, there are different kinds of specialists for different kinds of needs. Some of them may sound similar but offer different services. For instance, how do you know whether you should go to an audiologist or an ENT doctor?

These might sound like much the same thing at first glance, but they tend to have a different focus with their treatments. Here, we will look at what you need to know about the difference between an audiologist and ENT doctors.

What does an audiologist do?

Audiologists are the foremost experts on everything to do with your hearing health. To put it specifically, they diagnose, treat and monitor issues of the auditory and vestibular systems within the ear. More simply, they are the experts you turn to when it comes to diagnosing and treating hearing loss. As such, audiologists are also trained to help their patients find the best hearing aids suited to their needs, as that is the most common treatment for hearing loss.

Audiologists also help with issues such as tinnitus, balance issues and can help assess whether or not a patient is a good candidate for a cochlear implant. Audiologists also provide plenty of help and advice to patients with hearing loss, including teaching them how to use hearing aids and offering repairs for the devices when necessary.

What does an ENT doctor do?

Conversely, ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, tend to help with conditions of the ear, nose, throat and base of the skull. They tend to have a more surgical approach to treatment. As such, when it comes to conditions like sinusitis, tonsillitis, sleep apnea, infections or tumors. Unlike audiologists, they treat the nose and throat even when the ears are unaffected, too.

ENT doctors and audiologists are also likely to rely on each other. For instance, if you visit an audiologist to treat your hearing loss, they may refer you to an ENT doctor if there is a tumor in the ear causing that hearing loss. Similarly, if an ENT specialist treats an ear condition such as an infection, they may recommend you to an audiologist to see how it has affected your hearing.

What services do they provide?

Audiologists can perform a wide range of treatments for you, including the following:

  • Offering advice on protecting your hearing, as well as how to communicate if you experience hearing loss, as well as caring for hearing aid devices.
  • Performing comprehensive hearing exams that can diagnose hearing loss, help you understand its severity, and recommend treatment.
  • Helping you select and fit hearing aids to suit your hearing loss and your needs. They can also offer some repairs for hearing aids when needed.
  • Treatment with tinnitus, including a full medical and audiological assessment. Treatment may include the use of a sound masking device to help you habituate or mitigate the effects of the tinnitus.
  • Help you choose and purchase hearing protection devices. For instance, if you want to buy custom earplugs, they can take a mold of your ear.
  • Professional wax removals to deal with wax blockages in the safest and most effective way possible.

ENT doctors, on the other hand, tend to deal with a range of medical issues affecting the ear, nose, and throat, and can help with the following:

  • Ear conditions such as infections and tumors, both benign and cancerous.
  • Nasal issues, such as sinusitis, allergies and tumors.
  • Throat issues like tonsillitis and growths.
  • Sleep apnea and the potential physical causes which are often found in the nose or the throat.

While and audiologist is there to help you find the right long-term treatment for hearing loss and to ensure your ear health is as well maintained a possible, ENT doctors focus on a more surgical and medication-based approach. As such, they both provide essential services. You just need to know when to visit which.

Should you see an audiologist or an ENT doctor?

If you have any concerns related to your hearing loss, suspicions of hearing loss or technology that is used to treat hearing loss or tinnitus, then you should call Sommerville Audiology & Hearing Aid Center at 586-298-3788. We’re here to answer any questions and arrange an appointment if you need one. Our staff is well-versed in caring for a variety of hearing health conditions.