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Audiologist near me

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Audiology doctor near me

According to National Institute of Deafness and Other Communicable Diseases (NIDCD), 15% America adults above 18 years of age (i.e. 37.5 million) and 15% of school-aged children (6 to 9 years) suffer from some form of ear trouble. Men are twice more likely to suffer from ear problem (including hearing loss) than women. (1) While age is one of the strongest factors for hearing problems in adults, our teenagers are more prone to ear problems due to listening to music through headphones. A research conducted by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), has concluded that the number of kids listening to music through headphone has increased in the past few years. This recreational music and exposure to loud noise are responsible for the prevalence of hearing loss among children and teenagers. (2) Nearly 1 out of 8 people aged 12 years and older suffers from bilateral hearing loss i.e. hearing loss in both ears, whereas 1 out of 5 people suffers from unilateral hearing loss i.e. hearing loss in one ear. (3) While these figures are alarming, you would be shocked to know that hearing loss negatively impacts household income on average up to $12,000 per year. (4)

If you are reading this blog, you or your close family member is probably suffering from hearing problems. In this blog, we will provide you all the information that you would need to find an audiologist near me, but first, let’s look at a brief history of hearing problems and how they were treated in the past.

History of audiology


 

Ear problems including hearing loss are not new. They existed even during the time when people were not exposed to loud noise.  In 5th Century, Hippocrates, the famous Greek doctor did an extensive study on hearing loss and documented it. His research is the first written document on hearing loss. He had concluded that hearing loss is related to change in the direction of the wind, weather changes, skull trauma, and also tinnitus. After Hippocrates, Aulus Cornelius Celsus made a remarkable discovery in the field of audiology. He was the first one to differentiate between various disorders. He also found treatments for those disorders and you will be surprised to know that some of his treatment methods are still in use. (5)

Until 1st century AD, no significant progress was made for treating hearing problems. Roman physician Arhigenes and Tralles physician Alexander used loud music to stimulate the auditory system believing (falsely) that it would help with hearing loss. However, in the middle ages, doctors understood that loud sound can damage the ears instead of fixing the problem. Then, the doctors started simulating the auditory system by speaking softly and using a small silver or gold tube to suction the eardrum.  (6)

The first electronic hearing aid was invented in 1898 by Miller Reese Hutchison. In 1920s, audiometer was invented to measure hearing loss. The word audiology was coined and first used in 1946 in the Journal of Speech Disorders. In 1988, the American Academy of Audiology was founded. In 2007, it became mandatory for new professionals to have Au.D. Degree i.e. the Doctor of Audiology degree to practice audiology.

Who is an audiologist and when you should visit him


 

According to the American Academy of Audiology, audiologists are primary healthcare professionals who are trained to evaluate, diagnose, treat, and manage hearing loss and balance disorders. (7) They are trained to treat people of all ages, including infants and adults. An audiologist is required to complete a doctor of audiology (Au.D) degree but professionals can get additional PH.D or Sc. D degree within the respective field. Audiologists are available at hospitals, clinics, ENT offices, universities, etc. They also do private practice and most of the audiology treatments are covered by insurance.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in its report has concluded that hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the United States. (8) Occupational hearing loss is the most common work-related illness and approximately 22 million Americans are exposed to hazardous noise at the workplace. Although these statistics are alarming, not many Americans understand when they need to see an audiologist near me and what he/she can do.  The team at AAOM has, therefore, compiled a list of conditions that an ear doctor near me can treat:

Hearing loss


Ear specialists near me specialize in helping people listen better. If you work in a noisy environment or have the habit of hearing music at high decibel levels, you must visit a hearing doctor near me and get your ear screening done at least once a year. Since hearing loss is gradual, most people don’t realize they are having trouble until the problem has become worse. If you stay in a rather quiet environment, you should still get your ears screened at least once in every three years. (9)

Please note that ear screening is different from ear testing. In screening, the hearing clinic near me will screen your ears to see if you have any hearing trouble. If the results are positive, only then, the audiology doctor near me will recommend you to go through a hearing test to determine the level and type of hearing loss.

Here are some signs that indicate that you are probably suffering from hearing loss and that you must visit a hearing aid center near me: (10)

  • Inability to hear voices of th females and children. Females and children use high pitch tone and, if you find it difficult to understand them in first attempt, you probably need to get your ears screened.

  • Unable to hear television in less volume.

  • Asking people to repeat themselves.

  • Unable to understand people when you are in a crowded place such as a restaurant or at a party.

  • Trying to read lips or watch people’s face to guess what they are speaking.


Here is a survey form prepared by the National Institute of Health to help you determine if you need help of a hearing aid doctor near me. (11)

It’s common for people to live with hearing loss for years but early detection can minimize the loss. The ear dr near me will program and fit a hearing aid based on the results of the audiogram test. He/she will program it to suit your unique hearing loss needs in order to minimize the damage in future.

Tinnitus


Nearly 15% Americans i.e. over 50 million people experience this annoying disease. Roughly 20 million of them struggle with chronic tinnitus and 2 million suffer from extreme, often unbearable form of tinnitus. (12) If you too are experiencing strange ringing, buzzing, or swooshing noise in your ears that no one else can hear, you must contact the best ear doctor near me. In a majority of the cases, tinnitus is accompanied by hearing loss and using a hearing aid can help alleviate its symptoms. The audiologist near me will diagnose your condition and will come up with the best treatment strategy for you.

Vertigo


If you are experiencing frequent dizziness or balancing issue, you must see an ear doctor near me. The most common cause for dizziness is vertigo, which can be caused by a number of reasons including a hole in the eardrum, tumors on the hearing nerve, objects stuck in your ear canal, ear infection, ototoxic drugs i.e. drugs that are not good for ears, etc. The ear specialist near me will ask you to get some balance tests done. If required, you may also have to undergo an audiogram. Based on the diagnosis, the audiologist will suggest you the best possible solution. (13)

Wax removal


Most of us are unaware that using cotton swabs or anything else for removing excess wax from our ears is dangerous and can cause deafness in some cases. This is because these products further push the wax inside the canal, which can make the excessive wax get accumulated near the eardrums. (14) If there is a lot of wax build-up, you may experience tinnitus like symptoms, dizziness, ear pain, decreased hearing, etc. In such case, you must schedule an appointment with an ear specialist near me. Audiologists are trained to remove the wax buildup safely instead of using cotton swabs, ear candling, and irrigators.

Difference between an ENT doctor and an audiologist


 

If you can’t decide when to see an ENT doctor (Otolaryngologist) or audiologist near me, don’t worry; you are not alone. Most people don’t know the difference between these two, which is why we have decided to include that information in this blog.

As mentioned above, an audiologist is basically a hearing doctor near me. They specialize in diagnosing and treating hearing loss and balance disorder related issues, which is why they are often called as hearing doctors or hearing aid doctors. Audiologists are required to complete the Doctor of Audiology degree after graduating from medical school. They have an extensive knowledge of the human auditory and vestibular system. They are also trained in sound reproduction, which is why they can adjust the hearing aid to accurately fit your ears. In short, if you are having trouble hearing people, you need to go to an audiologist who will ask you to get a hearing test done, if required, and accordingly, he will come up with a treatment plan. The hearing doctor near me can also help you with tinnitus, vertigo, ear wax removal, and any other issue which is related to hearing.

An ENT doctor or an otolaryngologist is an ‘ear doctor’ and not a ‘hearing doctor’. Otolaryngologists are required to achieve a doctorate in medicine and are trained to perform ear surgery and prescribe medicines. An ear doctor near me can treat all forms of ear conditions including cancer, tumors, infection, ear trauma, fused bones, ototoxicity (i.e. hearing loss due to medicines), sudden sensorineural hearing loss, and autoimmune diseases. They usually handle the medical side of the hearing issues i.e. they handle hearing loss cases that are treatable, whereas the audiologists near me deal with hearing loss which is nonreversible or non-treatable.  For example; if you have an ear infection which has reduced your hearing capacity recently, you need to see an ear dr near me, whereas if you are finding it difficult to listen properly for a long time and there is no medical reason behind it, you need to see an audiologist near me.

The best ear doctors near me and audiologists work together to provide comprehensive hearing care to their patients. An audiologist may refer you to an ENT physician if he/she wants your ears evaluated to find out if there is a medical condition responsible for hearing loss. In the same way, an ENT physician may refer you to an audiology doctor near me if you require hearing aid. So, don’t worry. You can consult any ear specialist near me and he/she will assist you appropriately.

How to find an audiologist


 

Due to excessive noise pollution, ear problems have become pretty common these days. So, finding an audiologist near me isn’t going to be too challenging for you. Here are some tips that will help you select the right ear doctor near me:

Ask for references


 

A referral by friends, colleagues, and family is the most reliable source of information. So, if you know anyone in your family or friends who wears hearing aid, ask them about the audiologist they are consulting and how is their experience. If they are satisfied with their audiologist, you should obviously put him/her at the top of your list. Other than your family members, you can ask your regular physician to refer you to an audiologist near me. Most healthcare professionals know each other, so your physician should be able to refer you to an ear specialist near me. If you are moving to a new city, you can ask your current audiologist for references.

Use online sources


 

Other than asking people, you can use the hundreds of online tools to find the best ear doctor near me. Although a lot of healthcare websites offer such tools for free, not all the search results and listings are correct. Many of them provide incomplete and inaccurate list. So, be careful while relying on any one of them. For the most reliable results, you can use the free ‘find an audiologist’ tool available on the ‘American Academy of Audiology’ website. (15) It is an extensive tool that lets you search audiologists by country, state/province, and distance. It is a highly reliable tool and the results you get are licensed and certified audiologists. Another important tool that you can use is ‘find a professional’ tool by Hearing Loss Association of America. (16)

Verify credentials


 

If you have followed the above steps, by now you would have found a few reliable and excellent hearing aid centers near me. To further refine the results, you need to verify their credentials and delete the ones that are not experienced enough to handle your case. No matter who referred you to the hearing doctor near me, make sure you verify his/her credential and make sure their licenses are up to date and they haven’t had any issue of medical negligence against them. As mentioned above, an audiologist must have an Au.D. Degree i.e. doctor of audiology degree. Although not mandatory, willing practitioners can get a CCC-A certification as well. CCC-A stands are Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology. It is issued by the American Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). Practitioners who have got CCC-A certification, must have completed a rigorous academic program and have passed a national exam. (17)

Along with these two degrees, the hearing aid doctor near me could hold F-AAA degree which is Fellows of the American Academy of Audiology degree and ABA certification i.e. board certification in Audiology by the American Board of Audiology. These degrees are not mandatory but audiologists can acquire them to prove their commitment towards lifelong learning.

Check with your insurance provider


 

According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, almost all insurance companies cover outpatient audiology services. However, there could be some limitation. Hearing loss test and hearing aids may not be covered in your insurance. (18) So, if you don’t want to get surprised by an unexpected bill, call up your insurance provider to check if the hearing clinic near me that you have selected is in their network. If he/she is not, ask them if they can cover the cost. Find out how much you will have to pay out of your pocket and what costs they will be covering. Most insurance companies have mentioned this information on their website. You can simply log on to their website and get these details and may even call them up to check if the information there is up to date.

Look for quality care


 

Long-term quality care is one of the most overlooked qualities of the best audiologist near me. Buying a hearing aid is not a one-time job. You will have to keep visiting your audiologist at least once a year to get your ears tested and get the hearing aid adjusted if required. A professional audiologist near me will not just adjust your hearing aid but also guide you on how you can keep your ears safe from future problems. He/she will listen to your concerns and queries and make you feel comfortable and confident. He should be someone whom you can trust. So, before you set up an appointment with him, you can ask the staff to provide you some referrals of patients to whom you can talk to and find out their experience regarding long-term care. You may also do a quick Google Search and look for reviews that talk about long waits, behavior of staff, last minute cancellations, ignored phone calls, cooperativeness of the physician, etc. These are some of the factors that will determine your overall satisfaction level and, therefore, it is worth considering them.

How to prepare yourself for your visit to an audiologist near me


 

Instead of walking into the hearing clinic near completely unprepared, we suggest that you must prepare yourself for the initial consultation. By preparing yourself thoroughly you will be able to provide all necessary information in one go. Here are a few tips on how you should go well-prepared for your initial consultation with an audiology doctor near me.

Make a list of your symptoms


 

The first thing that the audiologist near me would ask you to do is to describe your symptoms. If you go unprepared, you may forget to mention some important symptoms. So, you must start listing them down. List down all vital information such as listening to TV on a high volume, not able to follow people during conferences and meetings, feel as if other people are mumbling, uninterested in social gatherings, feeling depressed and rejected, etc. You must also ask your family members and friends to help you. They may have noticed something that you may have missed. For example; your spouse may have noticed that she has to call you multiple times to get your attention.

Write down your work history


 

Excessive exposure to loud noise is a major reason for hearing related trouble. So, if you are in a profession where you are exposed to loud noise for long hours, make sure you brief this to the ear doctor near me. This will help the audiologist assess the risk of future damage and, accordingly, he will suggest you the hearing aids or ear protection devices.

Write down your medical history


 

The best ear doctor near me will always ask you to fill a form regarding your medical history. You must fill out all information accurately there. In many cases, the form may be insufficient. Therefore, you must list down your medical history and share it with the ear specialist near me. Write down what other diseases you have, what medicines you are taking or have taken in the past, did the hearing loss happen all of a sudden, is your hearing loss a hereditary problem, have you ever suffered from head, face neck, or ear injury or infection, etc. Do not hesitate to mention any detail no matter how old it is.

Most people assume that hearing loss often affect senior citizens and it is merely a sign of aging. However, studies have concluded that an increasing number of young people are being affected by excessive noise. If you are facing even slightest trouble in any of your ear, you must not hesitate to go to an audiologist near me and get your ears screened. We hope this blog helps you choose an audiologist wisely. For more such helpful information, keep reading our blog.

References and citations

  • Quick Statistics About Hearing. NIDCD. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/statistics/quick-statistics-hearing.

  • https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/ear-infection/news/20170727/hearing-loss-rates-steady-for-us-teens-study#1

  • https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1106004

  • glance H, glance H, Clason D. Hearing loss statistics at a glance. Healthy Hearing. https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52814-Hearing-loss-statistics-at-a-glance.

  • Staab W. History of Audiology. Wayne's World. https://hearinghealthmatters.org/waynesworld/2012/history-of-audiology-bc-to-the-renaissance/.

  • semanticscholar.org. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d300/8f085e8067bd56fc63490c25394eb098784e.pdf.

  • org. https://www.audiology.org/sites/default/files/AAM%20Poster%20(40x60).pdf.

  • https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6515a2.htm

  • How Often Should You Get a Hearing Test?. Hearingdoctorsofga.com. https://hearingdoctorsofga.com/our-blog/how-often-should-you-get-a-hearing-test.

  • Hearing Loss Symptoms | Signs of Hearing Loss & Impairment. Betterhearing.org. http://www.betterhearing.org/hearingpedia/signs-hearing-loss

  • Do You Need a Hearing Test?. NIDCD. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/do-you-need-hearing-test.

  • Understanding the Facts. Ata.org. https://www.ata.org/understanding-facts.

  • Dizziness and Vertigo. Asha.org. https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Dizziness-and-Vertigo/.

  • Macknin ML e. Effect of cotton-tipped swab use on ear-wax occlusion. - PubMed - NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8156721.

  • Find an Audiologist. Memberportal.audiology.org. https://memberportal.audiology.org/Directories/Find-an-Audiologist.

  • Find a Professional - Hearing Loss Association of America. Hearing Loss Association of America. https://www.hearingloss.org/hearing-help/find-a-professional/.

  • Audiology Licensure vs. Certification | Audiology. Audiology.org. https://www.audiology.org/publications-resources/document-library/audiology-licensure-vs-certification.

  • Private Health Plans Coverage of Services: Audiology. Asha.org. https://www.asha.org/practice/reimbursement/private-plans/PrivatePlansCoverageAUD/.