ENTs, Ear Doctors, Audiologists — What’s the Difference?
Individuals looking for hearing loss treatment face a number of challenges, including medical terms that may be unfamiliar and categories of health care professionals that may seem confusing.


ENTs, Ear Doctors, Audiologists – What’s the Difference?

The types of hearing care professionals you might encounter in seeking help with your hearing loss differ in both their education and their skills.


ENT (Ear Nose Throat) or Otolaryngologist

Otolaryngologists are physicians (M.D.s or Doctors of Medicine) who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ears, nose, mouth, and throat (commonly referred to as ENTs). As opposed to an audiologist, who is more like a “hearing doctor,” you can think of an otolaryngologist as an “ear doctor.” Trained in both medicine and surgery, otolaryngologists provide pharmaceutical or surgical treatment, like a cochlear implant. You should contact an ENT for the following:

  • Sudden onset or changes in hearing, tinnitus, or balance
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Pain or fullness in the ears
  • Impacted wax removal
  • Evaluation of a notable hearing difference between the ears

After completing a medical course of treatment, otolaryngologists often refer patients to an audiologist for the prescription and fitting of digital hearing aids or counseling to help redevelop communication and language recognition skills.


Audiologists and Doctors of Audiology

This is what we are. And we have four doctors of audiology on staff at BNA.
An audiologist is a licensed hearing health care professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. You can think of an audiologist primarily as a “hearing doctor.” Most audiologists have completed a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree, though there are other doctoral degrees within the field (Ph.D., Sc.D., and others). Audiologists typically offer the following services:

  • Complete hearing exams and create personalized treatment plans
  • Fitting, adjustment, and maintenance of hearing aids and assistive devices
  • Evaluation and management options for tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Audiologists possess comprehensive knowledge of the human auditory and vestibular systems, and they have extensive training in sound reproduction, which is critical to the accurate fitting and adjustment of hearing aids.

No matter what type of specialist you decide to see for your hearing needs, the most important factor is the overall experience they provide, which should include a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating, and evaluating your hearing. Partnering with a professional who listens to your needs is critical to the success of your treatment plan.


Watch Our Hearing Care Videos

What is an ENT Doctor?

Have you ever wondered what an ENT doctor is? Dr. Stacy Chalmers, Au.D. offers a brief overview.


What’s the difference between a hearing doctor and an audiologist?

Terminology can be confusing. What’s a “hearing doctor”? Dr. Arica Rock, Au.D. helps clear it all up.


What’s the difference between amplifiers, OTC, and prescriptive hearing aids?

There are several types of devices on today’s market that claim to improve your hearing. How can you tell them apart? Dr. Sara Hanley, Au.D. gives a fantastic overview on the differences.

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