For most of us, our sense of hearing is something we take for granted. Our ears drink it all in: conversations with friends and family, music concerts, traffic noise, dogs barking, and babies crying. It isn’t until sounds start to fade that most people consult hearing doctors.
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Of course, these specialists see plenty of patients suffering from hearing loss — but they also offer other services, too.
Custom Ear Molds
Everyone’s ears are shaped differently. Yet ear buds, swimming earplugs, and hearing aids all come in cookie-cutter shapes. These can be uncomfortable or just plain ineffective.
Hearing doctors use advanced technology to take the most nuanced impression of each individual ear and mold earpieces to fit. Musicians, swimmers, and gun owners can all take advantage of this service to get custom ear pieces made. They come in many materials, like vinyl, acrylic, and silicone, and in any color.
Often called “ringing in the ears,” tinnitus can manifest as buzzing, roaring, tapping, whistling, or even phantom music. Approximately 15% of Americans have tinnitus. It is not actually a disease, but usually a symptom of damage to the ear.
Hearing doctors can determine the underlying cause of this condition, which may be age-related, noise-induced, or triggered by blockages in the ear canal or sinuses. Some of the less common causes include temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, head and neck injury, and some medications that list tinnitus as a possible side effect.
Because it is both a common complaint and one with many possible sources, it is important for a person experiencing tinnitus to talk with hearing doctors in order to find the root issue.
Dealing with Dizziness
While the cochlea half of the inner ear is used for hearing, the other half of the inner ear, called the labyrinth, regulates our sense of balance. Balance is a complex function that involves input from the brain, the eyes, and all the joints and muscles of the body — but a malfunction of the inner ear is often the unexpected culprit in cases of vertigo.
Diagnosing problems of the inner ear can be tricky and generally requires multiple tests. Finding a hearing doctor who is willing to work with you for the long run is key to dealing with this condition effectively.
Children can be affected by hearing loss as well as adults. Diagnosing children can be difficult since audiology tests depend upon patient responses — but catching a hearing-related condition early is vital to a child’s language ability.
How do audiologists do it? They have a range of age-specific exams that can assess how well a child can hear. For older children, tests are played like games to make them fun and engaging.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry is another kind of test in which children are asked to turn toward a toy when they hear a sound. It is recommended that newborns be tested to ensure that if there is a problem, it’s diagnosed early for the best chance at treatment.