HERMITAGE, Pennsylvania (WKBN) – An audiologist isn’t just a doctor who administers hearing tests. An audiologist is also concerned with why there are hearing issues and why changes have occurred.

“The role of an audiologist in healthcare can be simple or complex,” said Dr. Michael D. Rairigh, Doctor of Audiology at Hermitage Audiology in Hermitage. “It depends on what we are looking for. Most people come in thinking they’re just having a hearing test, but that can mean many things from an audiologist’s standpoint.”

Dr. Rairigh says the most common reasons for hearing loss are aging deficits, genetics, or noise exposure. He also says that sometimes hearing loss is for a different reason.

“We have to be able to identify those differences,” said Dr. Rairigh. “Whenever someone comes in for a hearing evaluation, we are looking to see what may cause the issue. Did the person possibly have cancer at some point which caused some differences in their hearing? Did this person have a heart attack or stroke or some cardiovascular event that may have changed their hearing? These people may or may not be aware of that. They may just say at some point their hearing changed. We are looking to see if the hearing issue was caused by these factors.”

Hearing issues can also be caused by neurological conditions.

“If someone has Muscular Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease, sometimes the first sign of that is decreased hearing because it’s a nerve and a nerve is affected in those conditions,” said Dr. Rairigh. “We may find that someone has a hearing loss earlier on than someone would typically have that and that would be the first sign that somebody has these conditions long before they are even diagnosed.”

Dr. Rairigh says it’s important for the audiologist to ask these questions and just as important for the patient to be honest.

“Sometimes we need to know other factors because that helps us create some sort of intervention,” said Dr. Rairigh. “What if we could potentially stop the hearing loss from happening any further because we now know this information and parts of the puzzle that we didn’t have before.”

Hermitage Audiology is located at 3135 Highland Road #B in Hermitage. Call (724) 347-2005 and visit them online at HermitageAudiologyPa.com.