If you are new to hearing care or the hearing loss community, you may have a few questions. One of the most popular questions is: “What is the difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser?” For starters, both help people get hearing aids, so it’s easy to understand why the difference is not so clear all of the time.
Hearing Aid Dispensers
Hearing aid dealers must meet very basic requirements to receive a license that allows them to do a basic test for the purpose of selling hearing aids to adults. While there is some variance between states, most states require a high school diploma prior to taking a licensing exam to become a hearing aid dispenser. Some states require a course prior to the licensing exam, and some require a valid student dispenser certificate prior to taking the licensing exam. Hearing aid dispensers are not doctors and have limits on the testing and treatment they are allowed to provide to a patient.
Audiologists are highly trained healthcare professionals. As a matter of fact, audiologists are the only professionals who are university trained and licensed to specifically identify, evaluate, diagnose and treat hearing disorders. Audiologists are required to obtain a doctorate degree, pass a national exam and do a one-year externship under a licensed audiologist before they can become licensed to practice.
Audiologists use specialized equipment and procedures to accurately test for hearing loss. The audiologist is trained to inspect the eardrum with an otoscope, to perform cerumen (ear wax) removal, conduct audiologic tests, and check for medically-related hearing problems. Audiologists can advise about whether hearing aids are recommended, provide the necessary fitting services and a continuum of detailed follow-up, including verification of the hearing aid fit and programming, counseling, and instruction. Audiologists are licensed to work with all ages, from infant to geriatric.
In addition to hearing disorders, audiologists are able to assess and treat balance system dysfunctions, and are also trained in the treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hyperacusis (aversion to loud sounds). They are also experts in hearing loss prevention, providing counseling and resources to prevent noise-induced hearing loss. They also monitor hearing and balance disorders that may result from the administration of ototoxic medications.
Hopefully this description will help when it is time to choose a hearing healthcare provider. Contact Berger Audiology today to schedule your hearing exam and see what Dr. Berger can do for you and your hearing.