If you have a problem with your ears, you might be wondering whether to call an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor or an audiologist. These medical professionals often work together, but they have different roles. Here is a useful guide to the key differences between ear, nose and throat doctors and audiologists.

What is an ENT doctor?

An ENT doctor is a medical professional who specializes in conditions and symptoms that affect the ears, nose and throat. ENT specialists are involved in the diagnosis, treatment and management of a wide range of conditions. ENT doctors complete medical training before undertaking further study in their specialty area. 

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist specializes in helping people who experience hearing loss and problems that affect their hearing. The primary job role involves the diagnosis, treatment and management of symptoms and conditions that affect the auditory system and the vestibular components of the ear. 

What are the key differences between ENT doctors and audiologists?

ENT doctors and audiologists are highly-trained individuals who use their expertise to advise and treat clients. The most significant differences between these two roles include:

  • Scope: The scope of the role is different for audiologists and ENT doctors. Audiologists are focused on treating and assisting individuals who experience hearing loss, while ENT specialists see a wider range of patients. ENT is a diverse field, and doctors can see clients with an array of different symptoms and conditions in a single day. ENT doctors see patients with problems that affect the ears, nose and throat, as well as other parts of the head and neck. 
  • Training: Both ENT doctors and audiologists undertake advanced training to enable them to provide expert advice and treatment. ENT doctors complete medical training before choosing to focus on their specialty area. Audiologists focus on hearing loss and issues linked to impaired hearing, and many have post-graduate and doctorate qualifications

Hearing problems

If you experience problems with your hearing, you might be wondering whether you need to book an appointment with an audiologist or an ENT doctor. The answer to this question depends on the type of symptoms you develop. Audiologists carry out hearing tests and assessments, and they are experts in fitting hearing aids and providing advice to help individuals choose the best hearing aids. Audiologists also offer advice to help clients program and adjust their hearing aids, and they also provide treatment for individuals with problems such as tinnitus and wax build-up. ENT doctors may also see patients with hearing issues, but they specialize in the medical treatment of hearing loss. In some cases, hearing loss can be linked to underlying causes, for example, a tumor, ear infections or Meniere’s disease. 

When to see an ENT doctor

If you have symptoms that affect your ears, nose or throat, it’s wise to make an appointment with your ENT doctor. ENT specialists diagnose and treat a diverse range of conditions, including:

  • Ear infections
  • Vertigo
  • Swimmer’s ear
  • Laryngitis
  • Anosmia (loss of smell)
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Snoring
  • Allergies
  • Tonsil infection
  • Reflux
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Persistent hoarseness
  • Sleep apnea
  • Tumors (malignant and benign)
  • Dizziness and lack of balance

When to see an audiologist

If you experience any of the symptoms listed below, it’s a good idea to contact your audiologist:

  • Signs of gradual hearing loss
  • Excessive earwax
  • Tinnitus (also known as ringing in the ears): Tinnitus occurs when you hear noises that are not produced by an external source. In most cases, tinnitus is temporary, and it is linked to exposure to loud noises. If you experience recurrent bouts of tinnitus, or your symptoms have got worse, it’s wise to get checked out. There are treatment options available, including hearing aids and sound machines. 

Hearing loss is often linked to the natural aging process, and it tends to be gradual. If you find that you’re asking people to repeat what they’re saying, you’re turning the volume up on the radio or the TV, or you’re finding it increasingly difficult to keep track of conversations on the phone or in meetings, for example, seeing an audiologist is beneficial. Your audiologist can conduct tests to determine whether you have hearing loss. If your hearing is deteriorating, you can explore treatment options, for example, hearing aids. It’s best to intervene early to protect your hearing if you have signs of hearing loss. 

How can I find out more?

If you’re looking for advice about ENT services, or you’re unsure who you need to see, don’t hesitate to contact Vero ENT Associates. We can point you in the right direction and arrange an appointment with one of our friendly team. Call us today at (772) 408-9556 to find out more.