Audiologists are healthcare providers who specialize in hearing and balance disorders. They diagnose hearing loss, provide treatment and work with other healthcare providers to treat hearing loss. Audiologists also do evaluations to check for hearing loss and share information on ways to protect hearing.

What are audiologists?

Audiologists are healthcare providers with special expertise in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Some audiologists diagnose and treat balance issues. This article focuses on audiologists who specialize in hearing loss.

What does an audiologist do?

Audiologists do many things to help protect your hearing and treat hearing loss. They may do evaluations to check for hearing loss or diagnose hearing loss. They may share information on ways to protect hearing. Audiologists treat hearing loss by selecting and fitting hearing aids or recommending and fitting hearing assistive devices. They’re often members of multidisciplinary teams that treat hearing loss.

Hearing loss

There are different types of hearing loss and hearing loss causes. For example, many people will have age-related hearing loss (presbycusis). Other causes or types include:

  • Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL): This common hearing issue affects millions of people. NIHL caused by loud noise may be temporary or permanent. Audiologists may treat NIHL by selecting and fitting hearing aids or other hearing assistive technology. They may help people who have cochlear implants.
  • Sensorineural hearing loss: This type of hearing loss often happens as people grow older. It’s often permanent. Children who inherit certain conditions or have head injuries or infections may have sensorineural hearing loss. Hearing aids, hearing assistive devices and cochlear implants may help.
  • Ototoxicity: Some medications may cause hearing loss. Audiologists may diagnose and treat this kind of hearing loss.

What is the difference between an ear doctor, an ENT and an audiologist?

They’re all healthcare providers who specialize in helping people with hearing issues, but each plays a different role.

  • Ear doctors, or otologists, typically treat severe or profound hearing loss caused by disease, injury or hearing issues that are present at birth. Otologists may use surgery or medication to treat hearing loss.
  • ENTs, or otolaryngologists, are medical doctors who diagnose and treat a wide range of issues affecting people’s ears, noses and throats. ENTs may refer people to audiologists for hearing tests.
  • Audiologists are hearing healthcare professionals who perform comprehensive hearing loss evaluations, diagnose hearing loss and prescribe hearing aids and other devices to help people hear. Audiologists don’t perform surgery or prescribe medications.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

What are the educational requirements for audiologists?

Most audiologists earn a doctor of audiology (AuD) degree. Some audiologists earn a doctor of philosophy (PhD) or doctor of science (ScD) degree in the hearing and balance sciences.

Other educational requirements include:

  • Completing a fellowship or externship year.
  • Passing state licensing exams.

When would I need to see an audiologist?

You may want to consult with an audiologist if:

  • You have to ask those around you to repeat what they say.
  • You feel as if those around you are mumbling or not speaking clearly.
  • It’s hard for you to hear and understand what people are saying when you’re in a noisy environment.
  • You turn up the volume on your television, telephone or other devices so you can hear.
  • You have persistent ringing or other noise in your head or ears.


What should I expect from my appointment with my audiologist?

Here’s what may happen at your first appointment with your audiologist:

  • They’ll ask you to describe your symptoms, including how long you’ve had them and if your symptoms come and go or are constant.
  • They’ll examine your ears and do a hearing test.
  • Depending on test results, your audiologist will discuss your hearing issues and the hearing devices that may improve your hearing.

What questions should I ask my audiologist?

If you’re having hearing issues, you may want to ask the following questions:

  • Why am I having trouble hearing?
  • How severe is my hearing loss?
  • Is my hearing loss temporary or permanent?
  • Will I need hearing aids?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Being able to hear and communicate is essential to staying connected to the world around you. Audiologists help you do that by sharing ways of protecting your hearing, and diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Many times, hearing loss happens gradually and gets worse over time. See an audiologist if you or your family have concerns about your hearing. Your primary care provider may be able to recommend an audiologist for you.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 08/12/2022.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 216.444.8500