Are you struggling with hearing correctly? Do you want to know what degree of hearing loss you are suffering from? Are you considering getting a hearing test or a solution to your hearing problems? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consulting the best audiologist is an effective solution.
An audiologist is a healthcare professional or clinician who assesses, identifies, and treats hearing disorders.
If you leave your hearing issues untreated, hearing loss can progress extensively. Hence, it is important to address hearing issues and seek professional advice as soon as possible. However, when it comes to medical professionals, finding the best one can be a daunting task.
Well, this article is a perfect guide on how to find the best audiologist near you. We have mentioned some essential factors to consider while looking for the best audiologist.
So, let us start with the basics!
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a healthcare professional specializing in preventing, assessing, and treating hearing disorders, such as tinnitus, vertigo, and sensitivity to sounds. However, some audiologists even identify and treat balance and neural system issues.
The following are some duties or responsibilities of an audiologist:
- Help patients of all ages with the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss.
- Provide solutions to people with hearing impairment, such as hearing aids or other hearing devices, cochlear implants, etc.
- Educate people on the effects of noise on hearing and ways to protect hearing.
- Recommend people with the right pair of hearing aids or hearing assistive devices and assist them in fitting.
- Extensively assist a research team in the prevention, identification, and management of hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance system dysfunction.
Many people have a misconception that audiologists are simply trained in hearing aids. However, their expertise covers a wide range, including hearing and balance assessments, mild hearing assessments, intra-operative hearing monitoring, tinnitus management, hyperacusis specialists, cerumen removal, cochlear implants, clinical research, pediatric hearing care, and much more.
Educational Requirements for an Audiologist
Many audiologists hold a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree. At the same time, some earn a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Science (ScD) degree, or Doctor of Education (EdD) in hearing and balance sciences.
Besides a degree, some other requirements include:
- Serve as a fellowship or externship year
- Pass boards to earn a license and accreditation
- A license in the state or commonwealth where they practice
Many audiologists prefer pursuing a certification from the National Association, ASHA (the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association).
How do Audiologists Differ from Other Hearing Health Professionals?
We have already discussed an audiologist’s areas of expertise. Now, let us see how audiologists differ from other hearing healthcare professionals, such as ENTs and hearing instrument specialists.
ENTs (Ear, Nose and Throat)
ENT is an acronym for Ear, Nose, and Throat. An ENT doctor is a medical professional who specializes in diagnosing and treating ear, nose, and throat issues. In addition, ENT doctors address and treat issues with some parts of the head and neck, such as sinuses, thyroid, sleep apnea, etc.
If ENT doctors further specialize in the ears, they are called otologists or neurotologists. They possess expertise in treating complex ear conditions and performing ear surgeries.
Hearing Instrument Specialists
Hearing instrument specialists are professionals who specialize in assessing hearing loss in adults and helping them fit hearing aids. They are not able to diagnose or treat other complex hearing issues, such as tinnitus, auditory processing disorders, hyperacusis, etc.
In a nutshell, an ENT doctor can diagnose and treat ear, nose, and throat disorders, and a hearing instrument specialist can assess hearing loss and help fit hearing aids, while an audiologist’s expertise lies in a wide range of hearing and balance disorders.
When Should You Seek an Audiologist?
If you experience any of the following symptoms, you should seek an audiologist:
- Not being able to hear properly and asking others to repeat what they said.
- Having difficulty understanding what others say in loud environments.
- Listening to music or other sounds at a volume higher than normal
- Constant ringing in one or both ears, even in the absence of the external sound.
- Occasional or ongoing dizziness or issues with balance.
How to Find the Best Audiologist?
One of the most convenient methods to find the best audiologist is searching online and looking for the nearest one. Utilize search engines or online directories, such as Webmd and Zocdoc, to search for a list of audiologists in your local area. Additionally, you can choose from the list your health insurance provider offers.
Now that you have a few audiologists in your hands, choosing the right one who can treat your hearing issue is essential. As a result, you must consider the following factors while choosing the best audiologist.
Considerations When Choosing an Audiologist
Like all other medical fields, academic qualifications and experience are foremost factors to consider in audiology. We already discussed what qualifications an audiologist requires.
Check whether an audiologist has a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree or other relevant degrees from an accredited organization or college. Professionals with AuD are trained to diagnose, address, and manage hearing and balance disorders.
Moreover, the fellowship or associated membership is another credential to look for in an audiologist. Your audiologist should have a fellowship from a reputed and accredited institution, such as the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), the California Academy of Audiology (CAA), and the American Academy of Audiology (AAA).
Years of service
Only looking at a degree is not enough. You must consider the years of experience an audiologist has in testing and treating hearing loss, hearing aid fitting, and diagnosing and managing other complex hearing and balance disorders. The more years of experience the audiologist has, the greater the expertise in the field.
Patient reviews can help you a lot in deciding the best audiologist. Visit the audiologist’s website and look for reviews and testimonials. Here, you can find what patients say about the audiologist and the treatment process. Besides, consider the reviews on social media platforms like Facebook. Look for the one with a higher number of positive reviews and ratings.
These reviews, testimonials, and ratings can help you make an informed decision.
What they specialize in
First, determine your specific hearing condition, for instance, tinnitus, vertigo, etc. Based on your special condition, look for an audiologist who specializes in treating your hearing condition.
In addition, many audiologists only treat hearing loss in adults, as it is more common in them. On the other hand, some professionals specialize in managing hearing loss in kids. More interestingly, a few audiologists possess expertise in diagnosing and treating people of all ages who suffer from a broad spectrum of hearing and balance disorders.
Hence, verifying the sub-specialties of the audiologist you choose to visit is important. We recommend you choose an audiologist who specializes in different areas and can treat multiple conditions.
Flexibility in office hours and service
Check the office hours of an audiologist and other services, such as telehealth and in-person visits, for follow-ups.
Telehealth is a service that leverages communication technology and digital information to enable patients to access healthcare services remotely. A healthcare provider can monitor a patient remotely without an in-person visit.
Moreover, verify that your audiologist offers a variety of hearing aid manufacturers, technologies, and financing plans to help you get the best for your hearing needs.
Your audiologist’s location plays a vital role in maintaining your hearing health. It is recommended that you visit an audiologist at least once a year. As a result, choose the best audiologist located at a feasible distance from your location.
Many insurance providers cover the cost of a hearing test. So, if your insurance plan covers the hearing test cost, verify that the audiologist you choose is in the insurance company’s network. This can help you save a significant amount of money on hearing assessment.
Besides, check what other audiology services your health insurance plan covers.
Seeking recommendations is one of the easiest ways to find the best audiologist. You can ask your friends, family, or primary doctor or can take to a social media platform and ask for recommendations for the best audiologist near you.
Moreover, audiologists are often associated with hearing healthcare plans offered by insurance companies. So, you can ask your health insurance provider for a list of audiologists near your location.
As these people will be known to you, you can trust their recommendations and further ask about the audiologist’s services.
These recommendations may help you shortlist some of the best audiologists. While shortlisting, consider the above factors.
Contact and Consultation
Now, the next step is to contact and consult the shortlisted audiologists. Visit and review their websites to gain insights into their specialties, expertise, years of experience, and testimonials.
Retrieve the contact information of shortlisted audiologists from their websites or directories to schedule a consultation and discuss your needs. Look for email addresses, mobile numbers, and online contact forms.
After you schedule a consultation with shortlisted audiologists, prepare a list of questions you wish to ask in a call. These questions may be related to treatment options and solutions, cost and payment plans, follow-up, support, technology, and devices offered.
Make an Informed Decision
Once you are done with consulting shortlisted audiologists, it is time to make an informed decision based on the answers to your questions provided by audiologists. Evaluate the answers of all audiologists and select the best one that can effectively treat and manage your hearing condition.
Good hearing care is vital to have clear conversations with others. Finding the best audiologist is essential, as they will spend time understanding your hearing condition and lifestyle and offer relevant treatment. However, the process of finding the best audiologist is very thoughtful.
Start with online research, ask for recommendations from friends, family, a primary doctor, and a health insurance provider, and consider the above factors to shortlist a few audiologists. After that, review their websites and find contact information. Schedule a consultation with them to find answers to your few initial questions. Based on the answers, make an informed decision.
Florida License: AS-2471 – NPI: 1992749147
Ivonne Baixeras is a Florida-Licensed Hearing Instrument Specialist with a track record of almost three decades treating hearing problems in Miami-Dade County and serving the needs of thousands of satisfied patients. Ivonne is a graduate of both Miami-Dade College & Florida International University and worked for many years at the largest national chain of hearing clinics in the US where she's received multiple awards.