4 Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know About Audiology

Did you know that the name audiology originates from its Greek origin, which means “hearing” or “the science of hearing”? Or that what is defined as ‘normal’ in our culture can be relative to other cultures? Here are four interesting facts about Audiology.

Audiology is a fast-growing field 

Did you know a few decades back, most states had a few audiologists? The most common number of audiologists per capita was 1.96, which means that there is about 50% less than the average amount of practitioners per state. They are not evenly distributed across the United States either; some states like Minnesota and Alabama only had one audiologist for every 300,000 citizens while states like Massachusetts and New Mexico have two audiologists per capita. These numbers have greatly changed since the start of the millennium, with more than 13,500 audiologists employed and dispersed across the country. Now you’ll find more than one ear doctor on Staten Island and likely more in the state of New York. The same is also true for other states. This means that more people can consult about their hearing problems. Even better, the number of audiologists is projected to grow steadily for the next decade.

Orthotic manufacturing is the most common use of audiology

Orthotic manufacturing is one of the most frequently used procedures by audiologists in clinical settings today.  This usually involves fitting a person with earmolds or hearing aids.  The device is manufactured by an outside source after the audiologist has collected information about the person’s hearing needs, likes, and dislikes.

A degree in engineering may prepare you for a career in audiology

Like other professions in the medical field, audiology can have specializations or generalist practices. If you are familiar with sounds, acoustics, circuits, and similar topics in engineering but not sure whether to make the jump to the audiology industry, think again. A degree in engineering can actually set you up for a career in audiology. An engineering degree is especially valuable if you are interested in working with equipment that focuses on hearing aid technology or cochlear implants.

Not all types of hearing loss are addressed by a hearing aid

There are many different kinds of hearing loss and not all can be treated by a hearing aid: A patient’s audiogram, which is a graph that shows how well they hear in each frequency, helps determine what kind of hearing loss that patient has. However, depending on the graph, they might be able to hear speech normally but not be able to hear certain frequencies of sound, called ‘frequency-specific hearing loss.’ This means that a person with normal hearing in speech frequencies could still benefit from wearing a hearing aid. On the other hand, there are people who have normal audiograms but still have trouble hearing noise because they are unable to use their ‘good ear’ when surrounded by loud noise. This is called a ‘receiver operating characteristic’ problem, one that people with this problem cannot solve by wearing a hearing aid. In all these cases, the specialty of an audiologist is needed in finding the exact cause of the hearing loss and what are the best treatment options. 

Audiology

Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in America affecting 1 in 8 people. Audiologists and Audiology Assistants work to improve the lives of their patients by helping them hear better through aural rehabilitation therapies. Learning some less-known facts about these health professionals can help us appreciate the difference they make in our lives.