Audiology

photo of Author

Researched by Morgan D.
2005-06


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    • Why I Chose This Topic
    • Dedication
    • My Family
    • My Interests
    • Products I Created
    • Self-Evaluation
    • Thanks for Helping

(PASTE REPORT HERE)

Research Summary

Audiology is the study of hearing loss.  Audiologists help people who have hearing loss.      Audiology is the study of the ear and how to help with problems related to the human ear.

Tools
Audiologists use a lot of fascinating tools. A computer is very commonly used. Another common tool is the otoscope, used to look in the patient’s ear.  They put the image on the computer screen so the patient can see what their ear looks like.  Another tool audiologists use is a hearing aid screener. First you put a patient’s hearing aid in the screener and the computer will show you how well the hearing aid is working.  

Work Enviroments
Audiologists work in a variety of places. Some work in schools and others work in an office or in a hospital. If the audiologist works in a school the noise level might be noisy or quiet depending on the time of day. If the audiologist works in a hospital the noise level will most likely be high.  If the audiologist works in an office the noise level will most likely be low.  Audiologists who work in an office have a fixed schedule. They work from 7:30 to 5 and have a lunch hour. No matter were they work all audiologists do tests on hearing.


Screening
Now most hearing is tested by computers.  The kind of test most people are used to is hearing a beeping noise and pushing a button, raising your hand, or tossing a block into a bucket.  Your results will appear on the computer screen.  If you have hearing aids an audiologist will drop a tiny microphone in your ear to test what you are hearing.

How?
There are two kinds of testing. Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) is a test that measures the brain’s response to sound.  This test involves putting a series of short sounds through earphones and then audiologists look for changes in the brainwaves.  The changes in the brainwaves are measured through electrodes usually pasted behind the ears and on the forehead. Then the computer collects about one thousand responses in a couple of minutes and averages them.  The responses measure how well you hear.  ABR is most useful in testing the hearing of newborns or anyone else who can’t respond behaviorally.  

The second kind of testing is called Otoastice Emmissions (OAE).  Not many people are used to that kind of testing.  OAE are responses from the cochlea.  The cochlea is where hair like cells attached to the nerve help transfer sound vibrations to a part of the brain that can translate sounds.  It can tell what sound is what like glass crashing, a dog barking or someone talking. Responses from the cochlea can be measured by putting a very sensitive microphone into the ear canal.  Audiologist can cause Emissions by putting other sounds into the ear first. For instance in Disorientation Product Otoacoustic Emmissions (DPOAEs) there will be two sounds in the ear and audiologists will look for a third sound that the ear will produce if the patient’s hearing is normal.  Like with ABR the computer will receive many responses within a couple of minutes and this can be used to screen hearing.  Both screening and diagnostic tests are done at Memorial Hospital.   Memorial Hospital is now using both methods to screen all newborns.

Who and Why?
Who should get their hearing tested?  People with risk factors should get their hearing tested.  People should also get their hearing tested when they are born because early detection of hearing loss will help avoid speech delay and may help lip reading if a long time is spent practicing.  

Training
To become an audiologist you will need a Doctor of Audiology Degree (Au.D) in most states. There are 48 states that require an Au.D only two states don’t. You will need many classes to become an audiologist. These include anatomy, physiology, physics, genetics, normal and abnormal communication, developmental communication, auditory neural system assessment and treatment, diagnosis, psychology, ethics, English, math, chemistry.  The school subjects today that will help prepare you for this job are reading, math, science, and writing. Also you have to do one extra test to dispense hearing aids.

Disorders
there are many different kinds of hearing disorders. Often there is more than one thing responsible. One of the disorders happens when the outer ear is closed so that sound is blocked out. If there is only one thing responsible the disorder is down syndrome.  The two main kinds of disorders are sensorial and conductive. Sensorial disorder means the cause(es) are often not determined. Conductive disorders means the disorder is caused by disease and that there can be partial improvement in the patient’s hearing. Loud music can also cause hearing disorder. Tinitus is another kind of disorder but not many people think of it as a disorder. About 50 million people suffer from tinitus but only 12 million people have a severe problem. It depends upon who has the problem as to how tinitus is described. To some people there is either a high pitched sound or a low pitched sound.  To others there are just weird noises in their head.  There is no way to avoid hearing loss but you can help hearing loss by getting hearing aids and\or learn to lip read.  Many people would recommend different things.

Interview Summary

I interviewed Martin Bernard John on December 27, 2005.  I interviewed him at his office at hearing and speech center. 

His job is evaluating hearing and hearing loss and helping people make the best of their hearing. He has been involved with audiology for about thirty years since he decided he didn’t like mechanical engineering.

A couple of things made him interested in audiology.  When he was eleven year old he was exposed to twelve shots from a very large handgun at the rifle range.  After that his ears rang terribly, and his hearing was muffled for several hours.  He didn’t wear ear plugs. They weren’t  wearing them either but he got the most impact of it.  Then in he found he didn’t love mechanical engineering. His girlfriend was taking classes in speech pathology so he took a class in speech pathology.  He became  the class guinea pig because he stuttered severely as a child and still had some of the same tendencies.  He could fake his way through a test called “ delayed auditory feedback” which makes people stutter. Part of the speech pathology was to study audiology- to take a little introductory course, so they’d know some thing about hearing. He found he had a high frequency hearing loss. Of course his ears had rang ever since age eleven. He told me they continue to ring.  He had a very good audiology professor.

To become an audiologist he had four years at Washington state to get his bachelors. Two years at Washington university for his masters. He recently completed his doctorate, which was about another two years. These days, people who plan on becoming an audiologist need to plan on a doctorate, which is another eight years of college.


He enjoys being able to help people.  He enjoys being able to apply science and technology to help solve different people’s problems.  Then realizing it goes beyond that. Every one’s answer to their problem is different.  Sometimes he will have to over come skepticism, “will anything work” and misinformation, he gets to blend  lots of different sciences and skills together. Electronics, psychoacoustics, psychology, physiology or the way the body functions. He told me knowing a little about pharmacology, or medicine, and how they work on the body doesn’t hurt.

Thank You Martin


Bibliography

Your Guide to Better Hearing. Alexandria, Virginia. Better Hearing Institute, 2005. Pp 1-7, 14-15.

Government Occupational Outlook Handbook October 23, 2005

Martin, John. Personal interview. December 27, 2005.

Meusiek, Frank. “Audiology.” The World Book Encyclopedia,  1999. Pp. 881

Sherman, Josepha,  The Ear: Learning How We Hear. Rosen Publishing Group: New York, 2002. Pp4-10.


Top of page

Menu of 2006 SOAR Projects

Back to the Selah Homepage