Audiologist vs. ENT Specialist

What is the difference between an Audiologist and an ENT Specialist?

There are some similarities between the services offered by audiologists and ENTs and this can be confusing as to which is best suited to meet your needs.

Both audiologists and ENTs deal with issues of the ear canal and inner ear. Both are able to make diagnoses and administer a range of treatments. However, an audiologist will have a more specific knowledge to your hearing rather than to your overall health.

That said, when your hearing loss is accompanied by other symptoms such as tinnitus, loss of balance and nausea which are common symptoms of inner ear conditions, should you see an audiologist or is your time better spent deferring to the expertise of an ENT specialist?

Should I see an Audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist?

When To See An Audiologist

An audiologist should be your first step if you are affected by hearing loss.

While hearing loss is often a natural consequence of the aging process or of a lifestyle that regularly exposes one to noise, it can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.

An audiologist cannot perform surgeries and cannot prescribe drugs. They can help to keep your ears clean, carry out tests and help you to find a hearing aid to reduce the impact of your hearing loss.

It is, however, possible that an audiologist may determine that your hearing loss is the symptom of a much bigger problem for which they may need to refer you to an ENT specialist.

When to see an ENT

Your doctor (GP) or your audiologist will refer you to an ENT specialist. They will be able to carry out further testing if your audiologist is unable to determine the cause of your hearing loss, or if the cause is beyond their capability to treat.

An ENT specialist will be able to carry out more comprehensive tests than an audiologist and will also be able to prescribe pharmaceutical treatments or perform surgery if your hearing loss is caused by congenital disorders of the ear or other medical conditions.

Symptoms and signs that you should visit an ENT specialist:

  • Painful or blocked and itchi ears
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Sinusitis, blocked and runny nose
  • Painful throat and repeated tonsillitis
  • Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • Children with poor speech or hearing
  • Children constantly touching their ears
  • Vertigo or balance disorders related to ear conditions
  • Congenital disorders (from birth) of the inner and outer ear
  • Constant snoring that doesn’t improve with lifestyle changes
  • Losing your voice, hearing or sense of smell (not to be confused with Covid-19 symptoms)

Meet Our Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist

Dr Jannet Izebout, Ear Institute – Queenswood

  • Practicing as an Ear Nose and Throat specialist since 2007. She specialises in middle ear and cochlear implant surgery.
  • International certification in cochlear implant surgery (University of Leyden, The Netherlands), and Temporal Bone Surgery, Switzerland.
  • Special interest in middle ear surgery.
  • Provides surgical supervision and training to new cochlear implant and middle ear surgeons.