Is an Audiologist the same as an ENT?
The short answer to this question is No.
Ear problems (infections, tinnitus, hearing loss, etc.) are conditions that require professional treatment. Most people start by visiting their primary care doctor to discuss their symptoms and then get referred to a specialist such as an audiologist or ear, nose, throat (ENT) doctor for further treatment.
It is a common misconception that an audiologist is the same as an ENT. Also known as an otolaryngologist, an ENT has completed 4 years of medical school after earning a bachelor’s degree. They also spend 5 years in residency and complete many more months of extensive specialized training. Certification by the American Board of Otolaryngology is required.
In contrast, after completing their bachelor’s degree, an audiologist will have completed a 4-year Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree (similar to a PhD) or a master’s degree in speech pathology and audiology.
Your Symptoms May Require an ENT
If you are experiencing serious ear disorders or you have symptoms that are also affecting other areas of your nose and throat, you may be referred to an ENT. Audiologists are limited to treatment such as ear infections, hearing loss, tinnitus, impacted earwax or balance issues. An ENT can also treat those ailments as well as sinusitis, vocal difficulties, problems swallowing, polyps, deviated septum, sleep problems, etc. If surgery is necessary, only an ENT will have this level of specialized training and experience.
What if You Need a Hearing Aid?
Both audiologists and ENTs can help you hear better by prescribing hearing aids. They can each explain the different types of hearing aids available and recommend options to complement your lifestyle and aesthetic preferences.