If I asked you the difference between a doctor and a nurse, you’d probably find it easy enough to explain. But what if I asked you the difference between an Audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser? A whole lot trickier, right?

They both can fit you with hearing aids but the similarity between the 2 more or less ends there. Knowing the difference can make a difference to the kind of hearing health care you receive. So let’s dive into what each of these jobs are about.

What is an Audiologist?

An Audiologist is a professional who trains for several years at university, both at graduate and postgraduate level, to diagnose hearing disorders by carrying out extensive hearing evaluations. They can also plan ongoing treatment and fit hearing aids. They are highly regulated; after passing a national exam and undergoing extensive practical training, they have to continue to build on their professional education by taking certified courses.

What is a hearing aid dispenser?

The scope of a hearing aid dispenser’s role is limited to fitting hearing aids. This does involve carrying out hearing tests but this is with the sole goal of selling you hearing aids. They do not diagnose or treat hearing disorders. The only professional requirement for hearing aid dispensers, in most states, is a single written and practical exam.

Why should you visit an Audiologist?

The benefits of visiting an audiologist include:

  • Clear diagnosis – hearing loss can be caused by a whole range of things, aging, head trauma, exposure to loud noises, infection, disease, genetics, and the list goes on. Finding out exactly what is behind your hearing loss means you can get precisely the right treatment.
  • Careful planning – your hearing will change over the years and is affected by the environment around you and the lifestyle you lead. A flexible treatment plan carefully devised by an Audiologist means as your needs change, so will your treatment.
  • Expert advice – living with hearing loss takes some getting used to. Even after getting your hearing aids fitted, there will be a period of adjustment. Having the expert advice and ongoing care of an Audiologist can help you adjust.
  • The right fit – there are lots of different kinds of hearing aids available today. An Audiologist will be able to provide you with impartial advice on the ones that will work best for your lifestyle, budget and hearing health.

At Scottsdale Ears, Nose & Throat, our audiologists are on hand to help you manage your hearing health through the years. You might have just started to come to terms with your hearing loss or you could have been living with it for years. Whichever the case, we are here to get you hearing better for longer. Schedule an appointment today.

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Dr. Debra L. Hamila, Au.D., CCC/A

Debra Hamila received her master’s degree in audiology from Cleveland State University and her Au.D. from Arizona School of Health Sciences and has been a practicing audiologist for more than 33 years. She has worked in a variety of ENT offices, hospital, and clinical settings.
    You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again – Regina’s Story

    Regina has suffered from hearing problems since she was an infant, recognized as regular chronic ear infections. And, as with unfortunate events, she has experienced a multitude of audiology catastrophes.

    It was many years before Regina crossed paths with Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat; where her lifetime of hearing problems was addressed effectively and treated with the delicate care that she desperately required.

    Regina’s journey began when she was taken to a regular paediatrician by her mother from a young age. Her ears were, what we describe as an audiologists recipe for disaster, ‘flushed out’.

    This dangerous procedure caused a nasty infection, which spread to her mastoid bone and, at the age of 15, she underwent a tympanoplasty mastoidectomy to stop the infection spreading. This only forbade her future struggles with hearing loss. 

    As with poor diagnosis, Regina was faced with another canaloplasty which didn’t work. Soon after, she received a BAHA, which is a cochlear implant in her skull that acts as a sound processor that detects sound and transforms it into vibrations. 

    However, suffering from a history of poor hearing care, she was unaware of the former issues her ear presented.

    By now, this would be described as any audiologists nightmare. But, we’re proud to have helped Regina on her road to optimum hearing and reconnect her to her loved ones.

    When she arrived at Scottsdale Ear, Nose & Throat it was evident that she was losing hearing on her right side. At this point, she was fitted with a ReSound hearing device, which provided the catalyst to a new and improved hearing.

    The first thing Regina noticed was the indefinite sound she had been making whilst emptying the dishwasher, completely unaware of the noise she was making!

    “I mean, the detail that I can hear now it’s like, Whoa, I didn’t realize I was making that much noise. I need to be quieter!”

    Treated with professional care, Regina received a comprehensive hearing assessment with Dr. Debra Hamila.

    “I just love, love, love Dr. Hamila, she is such a professional and loving person. I was so impressed with the office and what she did with the ReSound, I just love her.”

    Like many others, it takes years for people to realize they have a hearing problem. Regina described this moment as life-changing.

    “You don’t realise you’re walking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again. Especially now I’m a full-time Grammy Nanny, I can hear so much more and it has enriched my life incredibly.”

    What advice would you give to someone who is deliberating on taking the first step towards better hearing?

    “My advice to them would be to have a hearing test. Especially as we age our hearing goes down. It’s really unfortunate that people carry their pride and are not willing to learn to walk with the rock in their shoe. You don’t realise you’re waking with a rock in your shoe until you’re able to hear again.”

    Regina is one of many patients who has been impacted by our audiological services and we are proud to have been able to provide the tool towards better hearing and a lifetime of many more memories.