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Audiologist vs. Hearing Aid Dispenser

By: Dr. Katie Brown Au.D

If you think you have hearing loss, who do you go to? Hearing healthcare providers fall into two categories, audiologists and hearing aid dispensers. Doctors of Audiology are trained to treat, diagnose, and monitor disorders of the hearing and balance system. They are trained in anatomy and physiology, amplification devices, cochlear implants, electrophysiology, acoustics, psychophysics, counseling and sign language. An audiologist receives a doctoral degree, must pass a national examination, and have more than 1000 hours of clinical training. Hearing aid dispensers are trained in audiometric testing and hearing aid fittings only, mainly for the sale of hearing aids. They must also pass an examination.

Child Whispering to WomanThe first step in considering hearing aids is understanding your hearing loss. What type of hearing loss do you have? Is it permanent? An audiologist will perform a comprehensive hearing examination and explain the nature of your hearing loss. I strongly recommend seeing a physician to rule out a medical cause of hearing loss. Once medically cleared, your audiologist will sit down with you and your family to recommend a hearing aid(s) that best suit your specific listening needs and budget. Some private health care plans cover the costs of audiological evaluations, hearing aid consultation, and even partial or full coverage of a hearing aid. Be sure to check with your health insurance company.


Dr. Katie Brown is an Audiologist with Northwest Audiology a division of Northwest ENT and Allergy Center. Dr. Brown has a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of South Alabama. She also has a Doctorate of Audiology degree from USA. Her interests include serving the hearing healthcare needs of all populations, specifically, the diagnosis and management of hearing loss in adults, including hearing aid dispensing and rehabilitation. She also specializes in balance disorder testing.

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