If you had a problem with your teeth, would you go and see an optician? Or perhaps you would seek out the sage advice of a gynecologist if your vision starts to go? It sounds silly, but when it comes to hearing issues, too many of us don’t use the services of a specialist, that is a Doctor of Audiology.

Is it because we don’t know the difference between a Doctor of Audiology and a Hearing Aid Dispenser?

Truthfully, do you know the difference? If you don’t, how are you supposed to choose? Let’s find out so you can make a well informed decision.

Option 1: Hearing Aid Dispenser

Dispensers are trained in audiometric testing, so they are able to conduct simple hearing screenings. They’re also able to fit hearing aids, but this is purely for the purposes of selling them in-store. There are 3 requirements when it comes to being a Hearing Aid Dispenser:

  1. Be at least 18 years old
  2. Have a good character
  3. Pass one written, and one practical exam.

Sounds OK so far, doesn’t it? Well, let’s look at option 2.

Option 2: Doctor of Audiology

Doctors of Audiology are trained in the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of both hearing and balance issues. Their training covers a wide range of anatomy and physiology, electrophysiology, psychophysics and accompanying skills such as counseling and sign language.

The core requirements for a Doctor of Audiology are:

  1. A Master’s or Doctoral degree in Audiology
  2. Minimum 350 hours practical experience
  3. 12 months’ full-time professional experience
  4. Pass a national exam
  5. Demonstrate recent study through two Continuing Education Units

There is no question that is seriously impressive. But let’s cut to the chase about a big factor for most of us.

The money thing

It is of course up to you. As you’d expect, Dispensers are much cheaper, very much in the same way as you can get a cheap burger from a fast food joint. It is a burger, and it will do the job of satisfying your hunger. But wouldn’t you rather pay more money for the best burger in town, lovingly handcrafted by a chef who has spent years perfecting the art, with the best ingredients available?

And let’s face it, we’re talking about your hearing, not your dinner. Is it worth the risk to your health?

Speaking of health, the FDA recommends seeing a Doctor of Audiology if your hearing loss comes with any pain, discomfort or ringing. Their experience will give you an in-depth view of your hearing health. A Dispenser simply does not have the knowledge to assess medical issues outside of fitting your device.

Giving up professional services to save a few dollars with a Dispenser could actually end up with a much bigger price tag overall.

What about afterward?

Finally, when it comes to aftercare, it simply does not exist with a Dispenser. Once the sale is over, there is none of the ongoing care, support or maintenance provided by a Doctor of Audiology. You may feel like you got a bargain, but you’re on your own should anything go wrong.

So, now you know the difference. If you are experiencing the first signs of hearing loss, the first step is to book a hearing assessment with one of our Doctors of Audiology.

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Dr. Kalyn Bradford Au.D.

Dr. Kalyn Bradford is the director of hearing aid services here at Physician's Hearing Care. She completed her externship with Physician's Hearing Care in 2013 and subsequently joined the practice in 2014 after graduating with her doctoral degree in audiology from Louisiana Tech University. She joined PHC as a clinical audiologist, where she performed comprehensive audiological exams and specialized in helping patients to hear better using the latest hearing aid technology available. She has carried that experience into her current role as director of hearing aid services, where she does an excellent job managing the audiologists to ensure that all patients are treated with the best hearing care possible.