How to Choose a Hearing Provider
If you’re struggling with hearing loss, there are a few different health care professionals who are qualified to help you find a viable treatment option. If you suspect you may have just a “regular old hearing loss,” a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist is usually the best professional to see. However, if any of the following conditions apply to you, it is best to see an otolaryngologist (ear, nose, & throat doctor).
- Pain or drainage in your ears
- A sudden deafness (unilaterally or bilaterally)
- Acute or chronic dizzyness
- You’ve had surgical procedures performed on your ears (excluding the exterior portions)
If any of the above apply to you, it is safest to seek the advice of an otolaryngologist as your starting point. The otolaryngologist will discover (or rule out) any underlying medical conditions which may be contributing to your hearing loss. If everything “checks out,” they will then refer you to either a hearing instrument specialist or an audiologist for further screenings and to determine if hearing instruments may help you.
Assuming you don’t have any of the above mentioned conditions (and you live in a decent-sized town), then you probably have a handful of professionals near you that can help. The first thing you want to do is make a list of all the providers in your city, using the phone book or any number of online resources. Next, check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints issued against them.
Most of the issues that patients tend to have with providers are regarding the trial period and the return of monies if a refund is requested. Most providers are very good about issuing refunds immediately, but of course, there are a few “bad apples.” Usually, if a company is repeatedly unethical in this department they will have numerous complaints filed against them (not just a few). One or two complaints of this nature are nothing to worry about (as long as they are resolved) as no business is perfect 100% of the time.
Next, check with your immediate friends and family and ask for references. A huge part of wearing hearing aids (and successfully), is the relationship you will establish with your hearing provider. If you have a friend or family member that really likes their provider, this is a great sign, and this provider should be moved to the top of your list. If you don’t have any friends or family that can make recommendations, your primary care doctor may be able to give you feedback on a few different providers in town.
Alternatively, if you’re the type of person that likes to get pro-active with your healthcare research, you may even start searching on your own for the correct hearing instruments. Manufacturer websites are a great starting point for this research. If you go this route, you can contact the manufacturer and ask for a list of their most highly recommended providers near you. This is a very valuable thing to do, as manufacturers know which providers are the most popular in each community, and they will only refer you to their best providers.
If combing through product brochures on manufacturer websites is not your cup of tea, there are alternative ways to get a little more informed. We’ve created a list of the most popular hearing aids on the market, complete with search parameters to help you find one that’s just right for you. Once you’ve settled on a few hearing instruments you are interested in, you can use the built in tools on our website to find a hearing provider near you who is experienced in working with those specific hearing instruments.
Regardless of the way you decide to research hearing aids and/or choose a hearing provider, it’s important to note that your relationship with your hearing provider is going to be a very long lasting one. If it is successful, it will be a very long relationship, and at the minimum it will be a 3-4 year relationship until you decide to purchase hearing aids from a different provider. With this in mind, it’s important that you are comfortable with your provider. Many people who have worn several sets of hearing aids will agree that the level of skill and empathy of your hearing provider is the most important aspect to success with you hearing instruments- even more so than the technical abilities or features of the hearing instruments themselves.
Follow all of the above recommendations, and find a path that works best for you. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised with the level of expertise and empathy of providers in your community. Those working in the hearing health care field are a unique bunch, and many of them take it very personally that their clients leave their office hearing much better than they did when they arrived.
Do you have any tips for people searching for a hearing provider? Post them in the comments below!
If you or a loved one would like a free phone consultation with a licensed hearing provider, please feel free to call us at 800-731-6794.