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What is the Difference Between an Audiologist and Hearing Instrument Specialist?

audiologist and hearing instrument specialists

Have you been having issues with your hearing? Perhaps you have been struggling to hear people speaking clearly lately, or you have noticed yourself turning up the volume on the TV. Either way, it might be time to get professional support. That way, you can get your hearing checked and also ensure that you get the treatment you need to maintain your quality of life. This is actually crucial because left unchecked and untreated hearing loss can have a variety of negative impacts. It has been linked to higher levels of depression and even dementia.

The question then becomes which expert you should speak to, and you have two main choices here. You can opt for an audiologist, or you can choose to talk to a hearing instrument specialist. Both are recognized professionals and are regulated by official boards.

With an audiologist, you can get information, treatment and diagnosis. They will be able to help you understand more about the impact the hearing has on your body and your mind. They are trained to complete hearing tests in every type of population and can ensure that you get the treatment you need.

A hearing instrument specialist is also trained to test your hearing and potentially refer you to another professional. They can also fit and recommend the right hearing aids for you. While the two may sound similar, there are distinct differences to be aware of here.

Scope of practice

This is certainly one of the key differences between these two professionals with one having a far larger scope than the other. An audiologist serves a greater range of the population when it comes to auditory-related conditions. They can check the hearing ability in infants, teenagers and people who won’t be able to respond to a typical hearing test. It is worth noting that for a typical hearing test, you have to be able to listen to sounds, recognize the sound, and then indicate when you hear it.

A HIS has a comparatively smaller scope because they can only really be used to perform tests on the adult population. As such, if your child needs a hearing test, you definitely need to use an audiologist.

Education levels

Another big difference is that there are two different education levels for these individuals. An audiologist also has an advanced degree, ranging from a Master’s to a Doctorate, providing them with an extensive education background for identifying and treating conditions impacting the auditory system.

A HIS, on the other hand, has a substantial level of training, but typically earn a certification rather than a degree. This means they are more prone to fitting and educating individuals on hearing aids and listening technology, as opposed to diagnosing or treating a specific auditory issue.

So, while both have a great deal of training, one is certainly more substantial than the other. It is for this reason that an audiologist will be able to diagnose your hearing loss. A HIS will be able to say what level of hearing loss you are suffering from, but they won’t be able to identify the cause typically. They’ll have to refer you for this.

Most hearing loss is caused by damage to your hearing from things like excessive noise or extended exposure to these loud sounds. However, there can also be underlying conditions at play, and you do need to be aware of the potential danger here. An underlying cause can lead to severe complications that certainly need to be addressed.

It’s important to understand that an audiologist will have a range of knowledge about other parts of the body and health issues. That’s why they can diagnose hearing issues because these can be caused by health issues that a HIS won’t understand or won’t be aware of at all. This could be anything from Meniere’s disease or potentially even a tumor. While an audiologist may still need to refer you, they won’t do this until you gain the diagnosis you need for treatment.

We hope this helps you understand the critical differences between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist. While both can provide the support you require, one can undoubtedly offer a deeper dive into your hearing issue. For more information about audiologists or to learn more about Professional Hearing Care, please contact 501-614-7904. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have and ensure that you get the treatment or support you need.