If you or a loved one is struggling with hearing loss, knowing where to start on your journey to better hearing can be a daunting task. Should you start looking at hearing aids? Do you need to see a specialist to determine whether you need them? Are hearing aids the only option for you? What if you are interested in implantable options?
An important first step toward discovering the hearing solution that best fits one’s specific needs is understanding all of the options available. A visit to a specialized otology or neurotology practice is a great way to be exposed to all of your options, rather than a retail practice limited to one type of hearing solution (e.g. hearing aids) or one brand of hearing aid.
We’d like to share the most common questions about what these hearing health professionals can offer and how making an appointment with an otologist/neurotologist can set you on the path to better hearing.
What is an otologist/neurotologist?
Most people are familiar with otolaryngologists, also known as ENT physicians. Experts in the study of the ear, nose and throat, ENT physicians are uniquely qualified to diagnose and treat anything from sinusitis to throat cancer to voice problems. Within the field are a number of subspecialties, including otology/neurotology.
Otologists and neurotologists are board-certified otolaryngologists with a specialty and additional training in various types of ear care.[i] Otologists deal more closely with treatment of middle ear conditions, while neurotologists focus on those of the inner ear. However, overlaps in training allow both subspecialties to diagnose and offer tailored treatment plans for hearing loss.
What kind of training do they receive?
Training to become an otolaryngologist means one year of general surgery and at least four years of otolaryngology-specific training. To become specialists, otologists and neurotologists spend an additional one to three years focusing exclusively on the ear. With almost a decade of collective training, both specialists offer unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the ear.
How are they different from my usual doctor?
While your or a loved one’s primary care physician can offer general advice on hearing loss, otologists/neurotologists use their expertise to diagnose specific types of hearing loss and recommend the most effective and state-of-the art treatments.
In addition to being experts in hearing loss, their training includes everything from diseases that affect the ears and related structures of the head and neck to the sciences behind hearing, balance and nerve function.[ii] With such a diverse background and level of expertise from which to draw, otologists and neurotologists can be your go-to resource for all things hearing loss.
Can they help with my hearing loss?
Of course! Otologists/neurotologists not only have the expertise to help diagnose yours or a loved one’s specific type of hearing loss, but they can also make recommendations to help improve it.
If hearing loss affects your well being, it may be time to see an otologist/neurotologist. Whether these hearing health professionals recommend practical lifestyle changes, hearing aids or a more permanent hearing solution, their expertise can help change your life.
Have you or a loved one completed an audiogram and curious about next steps? Submit your audiogram today and find out if Esteem is right for you!
[i] University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). What is an Otologist or Neurotologist? Retrieved from http://umm.edu/programs/hearing/about-us/what-is-an-otologist
[ii] University of Maryland Medical Center. (n.d.). What is an Otologist or Neurotologist? Retrieved from http://umm.edu/programs/hearing/about-us/what-is-an-otologist