Your hearing is precious and deserves the highest quality care, so it is important that you choose a Doctor of Audiology as the key provider on your hearing health team. (Look for the credentials AuD behind the name, or ask “Will an Audiologist conduct a diagnostic evaluation of my hearing?”) Audiologist providers typically work in private Audiology practices, at large hospitals, or specialty clinics affiliated with Ear, Nose & Throat (ENT) physician services. By their general nature, private Audiology practices are most likely to focus on providing highly personalized, professional hearing care services.
Audiologists are the primary healthcare professionals with the expertise to evaluate, diagnose, treat and manage hearing loss. Audiologists have the medical background to perform diagnostic hearing evaluations to determine the type and extent of hearing deficits. Audiologists also have the training to recognize when hearing loss patterns and symptoms might indicate more complex medical/neurological conditions (including possible tumors, injuries etc.) that warrant referrals to other specialists for additional investigation and/or treatment.
When seeking a hearing health provider to best meet your needs, you can ask your physician or primary healthcare provider if they recommend a particular Audiologist or Audiology practice. You can contact Audiology clinics (look for the word “Audiologist” or “Audiology” in the business name) in your area to learn about and compare various services they offer. You could also ask acquaintances which hearing providers they prefer and why, but be sure to confirm that any providers you consider are Audiologists. (Because both Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dealers can fit hearing aids, the general public sometimes confuses the two or thinks they are equally trained.)
A word to the wise: Some Doctors of Audiology prefer to wear a white coat, while others may not. If a Hearing Aid Dealer who is not an Audiologist wears a white coat, there is a higher likelihood people may mistakenly assume them to be an Audiologist. It is always in your best interest to confirm credentials or to ask “Will my hearing be examined by an Audiologist?” Keep in mind that non-Audiologist Hearing Aid Dealers lack the training and expertise to diagnose hearing loss (and thus are prohibited by law from charging fees to test hearing.) Another hint: whenever you see an advertisement listing “free hearing tests,” consider that your clue that the provider is probably a Hearing Aid Dealer rather than an Audiologist.