When You’ve Noticed Changes in Your Hearing
Hearing loss affects 20% of the American population, making it the third most common medical condition in the country. Hearing loss is especially prevalent among people ages 65 and above – with one-third of people above the age of 64 and 50% of people above the age of 75 experiencing some degree of hearing loss.
At the same time, hearing loss may affect anyone, at any age. Common signs of hearing loss include difficulty with speech communication, constantly turning up the volume on the TV and the radio, and more serious issues such as withdrawing socially and isolating oneself from your friends, family, and community.
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. It is estimated that people wait an average of seven years from the time they first experience hearing loss to the time they decide to seek treatment. Leaving hearing loss untreated could lead to a series of negative health consequences.
In treating hearing loss, we encourage you to visit us at New York Hearing Doctors. Our audiologists are trained to provide the best possible care for hearing loss.
What is an Audiologist?
An audiologist is a health professional who is licensed in the science of hearing, balance, and related disorders. Unlike hearing instrument specialists who work at dispensaries, audiologists are licensed medical professionals. Audiologists may specialize in different areas of hearing health, such as balance disorders, geriatric hearing loss, pediatric hearing loss, and so on.
Accurate Diagnosis with Audiology
Audiologists diagnose and treat hearing loss and hearing-related conditions (balance disorders, tinnitus, etc.). They take into account your lifestyle, personal medical history, and general hearing needs before analyzing your hearing. Audiologists receive professional training to evaluate and rehabilitate your hearing in the event of hearing loss.
With a physical exam and in-depth hearing tests, audiologists determine the configuration and degree of your hearing loss. As medical professionals, audiologists are committed to providing you with the best medical care. More often than not, hearing aid dispensaries are focused on profit margins and sales. In other words, while you’ll receive treatment for your hearing loss at a dispensary, they may not be the most accurate prescription and best fit for your form of hearing loss.
The primary objective of audiologists is like that of medical health professionals: to put the patient’s needs and care above all else. Hearing aids are the most common prescription for hearing loss, and audiologists recommend the type of aid that is the best treatment for your specific hearing needs.
Comorbidities of Hearing Loss
As medical professionals, audiologists are equipped to identify health issues related to hearing loss. Comorbidities are conditions related to a medical issue, such as hearing loss. Comorbidities of hearing loss range from balance disorders to tinnitus, to falls and accidents, to increased risk for dementia, anxiety, or depression. Hearing loss may also be related to other medical conditions, such as cancer or cardiovascular disorders (i.e. blood pressure).
If other medical issues are present, audiologists are better equipped to address these issues and refer you to a specialist.
Personalized Care and a Better Fit
New York Hearing Doctors is committed to providing the best medical care possible for hearing loss, a medical condition. Unlike other hearing providers, whose primary objective is to sell hearing aids, we are committed to treating the medical condition of hearing loss. This means finding the best fit for your specific hearing needs and providing you personalized care.
At New York Hearing Doctors, we are focused on the science and the medical implications behind hearing loss. Our motivating factors are providing the best possible medical care for hearing loss, a medical condition. When you’ve decided to treat your hearing loss with us at New York Hearing Doctors, you have committed receiving professional medical care for optimal hearing health. We are a top-ranked audiology and hearing aid clinic in New York City.
Individuals looking for hearing loss treatment face a number of challenges, including medical terms that may be unfamiliar and categories of healthcare professionals that may seem confusing. For instance, what is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing instrument specialist?
Ear Doctors, Audiologists, Hearing Aid Specialists — What’s the Difference?
The types of hearing care professionals you might encounter in seeking help with your hearing loss differ in both their education and their skills:
Audiologists and Doctors of Audiology
An audiologist is a licensed hearing healthcare professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss and balance disorders in adults and children. You can think of an audiologist primarily as a “hearing doctor.” Most audiologists have completed a doctor of audiology (Au.D.) degree, though there are other doctoral degrees within the field (Ph.D., Sc.D., and others). Audiologists typically offer the following services:
- Complete hearing exams
- Fitting, adjustment, and maintenance of hearing aids
- Treatment for balance disorders and tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Hearing and speech rehabilitation programs
Audiologists possess comprehensive knowledge of the human auditory and vestibular systems, and they have extensive training in sound reproduction, which is critical to the accurate fitting and adjustment of hearing aids.
Hearing Instrument Specialists
Hearing instrument specialists (or, in some states, licensed hearing aid dispensers) are healthcare professionals who specialize in recommending and fitting appropriate hearing aid technology. Hearing instrument specialists are typically up to date on the latest technology available in the field — including assistive listening devices (amplified telephones, alarm systems, etc.) — and are experienced in performing and evaluating basic hearing tests.
Hearing instrument specialists must be either board certified or licensed by the state. Most states also require an apprenticeship or a specified period of practical experience before they are licensed.
Otolaryngologists are physicians (M.D.’s or Doctors of Medicine) who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases of the ears, nose, mouth, and throat. As opposed to an audiologist, who is more like a “hearing doctor,” you can think of an otolaryngologist as an “ear doctor.” Trained in both medicine and surgery, otolaryngologists typically treat the types of profound hearing loss that require pharmaceutical or surgical treatment, like a cochlear implant. These types of hearing loss include loss caused by trauma, infection, or benign tumors in the ear.
After completing a medical course of treatment, otolaryngologists often refer patients to an audiologist for the prescription and fitting of digital hearing aids or counseling to help redevelop communication and language recognition skills.
No matter what type of specialist you decide to see for your hearing needs, the most important factor is the overall experience they provide, which should include a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating, and reevaluating your hearing. Partnering with a professional who listens to your needs is critical to the success of your treatment plan.