Find a Hearing Doctor for a Hearing Test
What kinds of hearing doctor are there? Where can you go to get your hearing professionally tested?
Most family doctors and general practitioners do not routinely screen for hearing loss. Therefore,
if you have a concern about your hearing,
you will need to take an active role and seek an evaluation from an ear doctor or hearing care specialist.
Types of Hearing Doctor and Ear Care Specialist
There are several types of health care professionals and specialists that care for ears and hearing:
- Otolaryngologist or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctor: A physician who has received advanced training in medical conditions involving the ear, nose, and throat. ENT specialists diagnose and treat diseases of the ear, and carry out medical and surgical treatments for certain types of hearing loss (about 10% of cases). Most of them do not fit or dispense hearing aids, but many have an audiologist or hearing aid specialist on staff for those patients who can benefit from hearing aids.
- Otologist or neurotologist: A specialized type of ENT physician, one who has had further training focusing on conditions of the ear.
- Audiologist: A non-physician hearing care professional specializing in the testing, identification, and treatment of hearing loss. Licensed or certified audiologists hold graduate degrees in the science of hearing, and are experts in measuring hearing loss and fitting hearing aids.
- Hearing aid specialist: A specialist in the selection, fitting, and adjustment of hearing aids. Some of them have attained independent board certification as Hearing Instrument Specialists (BC-HIS) by the International Hearing Society.
Where Should You Go for a Hearing Test?
If you have any symptoms besides suspected hearing loss, you should start by seeing an ENT specialist. For example, if you have ear pain, dizziness, sudden hearing loss or hearing loss in only one ear, drainage, or excessive ear wax, ENT physicians have the knowledge and training to evaluate and treat your medical condition. Also, if the patient is a child, consult first with an ENT specialist. Your regular family doctor or general practitioner can refer you to an ENT physician.
Note: Sudden hearing loss is a true medical emergency. If you lose your hearing in one or both ears suddenly or over the course of hours or a few days, see an ENT doctor, preferably an otologist, immediately.
Do not delay.
If your only symptom is
suspected hearing loss,
an audiologist can assess and identify the problem. The audiologist also has the training to recognize problems that may require medical or surgical intervention, and can refer you to a medical professional (ENT specialist) if needed. Most audiologists can fit and dispense hearing aids.
Click here to find an audiologist (worldwide).
What about Free Hearing Tests by Hearing Aid Retailers?
Many hearing aid retailers offer a free hearing test. These basic hearing tests are designed to guide in the selection and proper adjustment of hearing aids, and are not meant to check for possible underlying medical conditions. Also, be aware that a free test may be followed by high-pressure sales tactics for the brand(s) of hearing aid sold by the retailer.
If you choose to have your hearing tested at a hearing aid retail store, here are some recommended guidelines:
- Choose an independent provider that offers more than one brand of hearing aid.
- Choose an office with an audiologist on staff who performs and evaluates the hearing tests.
- Find out in advance whether you will be given a copy of your
hearing test results
(audiogram) without any purchase or further obligation (or whether you can obtain it for a nominal charge).
- Check with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general's office for any complaint history.
- Check with your state or provincial licensing board to verify that the staff's credentials are current.
What happens at a hearing exam?
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