Audiologists, Ear Nose & Throat Doctors, and Hearing Aid Fitters
There are several different types of businesses that provide hearing aids, and this can be confusing to the consumer. The sources of hearing aids range from Doctors of Audiology, to Ear-Nose-and-Throat Doctors, to hearing aid dealers and franchise stores, and even big-box retail stores and internet sellers.
An audiologist is a licensed health professional with a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s or Doctorate degree. The audiologist is the highest-trained individual in the diagnosis, testing, evaluation, and rehabilitation of non-medical hearing loss (that is, hearing loss that is not associated with disease). In most states, no one can legally use the term “audiologist” unless he or she holds an Audiology License.
In recent years, the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree has become the basis for the practice of audiology. The Master’s Degree in Audiology is no longer offered, but licensed audiologists with the Master’s degree may continue to practice (“grandfathered”). Many audiologists who began their career with the Master’s degree, have gone forward to earn the additional Doctor of Audiology degree.
Some audiologists are self-employed in private practice. Others work as employees of hospitals, larger ENT (medical) practices, or in schools or other institutions.
Audiologists do not perform surgery, and do not prescribe medications (prescription drugs). They may recommend over-the-counter medications.
The formal term for an ear-nose-and-throat doctor is “otolaryngologist”. Many people abbreviate the specialty and refer to them as an “ENT”. An otolaryngologist holds a medical doctoral degree (MD or DO) from an accredited university, and has completed a multi-year residency in surgical procedures. Otolaryngology (also sometimes called otorhinolaryngology) is the branch of medicine and surgery that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disease and other disorders of the head and neck.
There are many specialties within the field of otolaryngology, including the treatment of allergies, sinus conditions, treating inflammation and infection, diseases of the larynx (voice box), cancers of the head and neck, pediatrics, infections of tonsils and adenoids, facial reconstructive and plastic surgery, etc. ENT doctors also can prescribe medications (prescription drugs).
Many otolaryngologists employ an audiologist to perform diagnostic tests of the ear, for both hearing assessment and for the diagnosis of certain diseases and conditions. In some ENT offices, the audiologist will also perform hearing aid evaluations and dispense hearing aids, along with their other duties.90% of hearing loss cannot be medically or surgically treated by an ENT.
When you are seen by an independent audiologist, if there is any indication of disease (inflammation, infection, drainage, bleeding, perforated eardrum) you will be referred to the appropriate medical doctor (usually an ENT) for treatment of those conditions, before beginning the process of hearing rehabilitation.
In recent years there has been a trend of retail establishments selling hearing aids, as an additional product. Some discount department stores and “big-box” stores have identified an opportunity for increasing their profits through the sale of hearing aids. Even one outdoor-product retailer has offered hearing aids, alongside such items as shotguns and fishing reels. By law, they must employ a registered hearing aid fitter. Most of these stores lack a sound-proof booth, tympanometer, otoacoustic emissions device, and other testing equipment typically found in an audiology practice. Most sell only one brand of hearing aid, which may not be the most appropriate type for your particular type of hearing loss and needs.
Successful hearing aid fitting
You are probably acquainted with at least one person who has hearing loss, was “sold” a pair of hearing aids, and has been disappointed in the results. The truth is, the primary factor in the success of your hearing aid fitting is the skill and experience of the provider. There is no “silver bullet” technology that is the answer to all hearing problems. An independent, licensed audiologist is the most qualified professional to diagnose and evaluate your hearing, and to recommend and provide a comprehensive solution to your hearing needs.
What is unique about Audiology & Hearing Aids of the Palm Beaches?
Being the only “Audigy Certified” Audiology practice in the Palm Beach County area requires us to keep the highest standards of care in the nation with the highest level of credentialing in America. Dr. Coveney is a Board Certified Doctor of Audiology, and keeps current on changes in the hearing care industry. Our mission is to provide high quality hearing solutions in order to improve the quality of life for our patients and their families that can only be received through Audiology & Hearing Aids of the Palm Beaches.
We offer at No Extra Charge:
- 75-day retraining periods
- 3 year repair warranties
- 3 year loss and damage protection
- 3 years of office visits and service
- Free batteries for the life of their devices