Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What does a Doctor of Audiology do?
  2. What is the difference between an Au.D. and a hearing aid dispenser?
  3. What causes hearing loss?
  4. What is tinnitus?
  5. What causes tinnitus?
  6. What is a central auditory processing disorder?
  7. What is aural rehabilitation?

What does a Doctor of Audiology do?

A Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) can evaluate and treat disorders of the human hearing and balance systems. This includes conducting specialized tests, working with physicians to diagnose, counseling, rehabilitating, prescribing hearing aids and other assistive devices, monitoring, and providing products and services for hearing conservation.

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What is the difference between an Au.D. and a hearing aid dispenser?

An Au.D. is much more than just a hearing aid dispenser. While a dispenser is licensed to sell hearing aids, he/she may have only basic knowledge of the auditory system. An Au.D. is first and foremost a provider of hearing and balance healthcare. When it comes to hearing aids, Stika, Ross and Cuevas (2002) found greater consumer satisfaction with audiologists than with dispensers.

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What causes hearing loss?

Hearing loss can be caused by many things including ear canal blockage, eardrum damage, middle ear infection with fluid accumulation, inner ear infection, heredity, birth defects, tumors, aging, trauma, Meniere's syndrome, loud noise exposure, multiple sclerosis, autoimmune disorders, certain medications, and toxic chemicals.

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What is tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a symptom, not a disease. According to the American Tinnitus Association, "tinnitus is the perception of sound in the ears or head where no external source is present. Some call it 'ringing in the ears' or 'head noise'."

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What causes tinnitus?

There are many causes of tinnitus. The most common cause is loud noise exposure. Numerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs are known to cause it as well. Some people have found that their tinnitus is worsened by alcohol, wine, caffeine, sodium, sugar, spices, nicotine and marijuana. Stress is another common cause. Allergies, middle ear and sinus infections, Eustachian tube dysfunction, otosclerosis, Meniere's disease, and acoustic neuromas, among other things, can also be the culprit. It is important to understand that tinnitus does not cause hearing loss. However, tinnitus may be more noticeable to people with hearing loss; those people might find that hearing aids provide tinnitus relief. If you have tinnitus, see your physician or an audiologist.

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What is a central auditory processing disorder?

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1996) defined central auditory processing to include the processes of sound localization and lateralization, auditory discrimination, auditory pattern recognition, handling of time-related cues, and performance with competing or degraded sounds. A central auditory processing disorder (CAPD) is an impairment of one or more of these processes.

In other words, CAPD is a deficiency in the interpretation of auditory information. Central auditory processing helps us listen. Symptoms can include difficulty in background noise, forgetfulness, inattentiveness, problems with reading and writing, difficulty following verbal instructions, and many more. CAPD can occur at any age and is sometimes associated with brain or brainstem development problems, trauma (head/brain or neck injury), tumors, Multiple Sclerosis, degenerative disorders like dementia, and spectrum disorders like Asperger's.

EAR Audiology specializes in the assessment and management of CAPD in adults. CAPD is commonly identified in childhood because its signs can resemble those of ADHD. However, CAPD is also common in adults; Cooper and Gates (1991) estimated that up to 20% of adults have CAPD.

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What is aural rehabilitation?

The goals of aural rehabilitation are to adjust to hearing loss, to get the most out of hearing aids and other assistive listening devices, and to exercise effective communication strategies. Aural rehabilitation services may be offered one-on-one or in groups. In addition, computer-based auditory training may be appropriate for some people such as those with central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).

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