The First Step For Your Hearing Concern
Why is it best to see an Audiologist first?
Because their profession is medically trained to diagnose hearing loss - the degree, cause - and recommending the right treatment solutions for each patient. They are also trained to treat functional disorders of hearing when it is not medically treatable.
Audiologists may refer you to a general ENT, otologist, or neurotologist for medical or surgical options or to your primary care physicians (PCP) for further differential diagnosis, depending on their findings. In this way, you might save time and resources during the process of diagnosing and starting a treatment plan, as the other professions would need the results of your hearing tests to assist them in their diagnosis.
In most retail stores- and warehouse clubs like Costco, Sam's Club, etc. - there is typically no Audiologist, but you may see a hearing instrument specialist (HIS). They are referred as being hearing care professionals (HCP), certified and licensed to dispense hearing aids legally. However, the requirement to be licensed in Florida is a 6 month process to be "certified". The feedback we have received from clients has been that they felt their interactions were more "sales focused" than patient centered, as you would hope to expect from a doctor/patient relationship.
Choose your hearing care professional wisely...most medical professionals would recommend that your initial testing and diagnosis should be done by an Audiologist, not a sales professional. Anything short of "the best possible fit" may worsen your auditory system and hearing.