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Select a Hearing Aid Provider

The below is an excerpt from Consumer Reports – 7.09

If you are a veteran, your first step should be to determine whether you are eligible to get your aids at your nearest Veterans Affairs facility. For everyone else, our suggested choice is a medical office headed by an otolaryngologist (an ear, nose, and throat physician) who employs an audiologist to fit and dispense hearing aids.

About one in five survey respondents got their hearing aids from a doctor’s office. They gave those hearing-aid providers higher marks on their thoroughness in evaluating hearing loss than did respondents who went to other types of providers. Another plus: An ear doctor can rule out medical conditions such as a tumor or bacterial infection in the ear that might be affecting your hearing. He can also clear your ears of wax so that you’re ready for your hearing test.

Medicare will cover the medical exam and an audiologist’s test if ordered by a physician. Some private Medicare Advantage plans might cover part of the hearing-aid cost. People with other types of private insurance should check with their carriers because coverage might vary.

If you can’t find a conveniently located doctor’s office that dispenses aids, an independent hearing-aid provider is a reasonable alternative, our survey found. Thirty percent of respondents got their aids from that type of provider, which is usually staffed by non-M.D. hearing professionals. We consider it important to have some choice of brands, and independent providers generally carry two to four different ones. (The Food and Drug Administration requires patients to have a physician’s exam before acquiring a hearing aid but lets adults who don’t want one sign a waiver.)

Name-brand stores such as Beltone and Miracle-Ear, used by 18 percent of survey respondents, handle their own brand. (The remainder of survey respondents went to clinics in civilian hospitals or at big-box retailers such as Walmart and Costco. We didn’t have enough responses to evaluate them.)

The professionals you might encounter at independent hearing-aid providers could fall into two categories: audiologists and hearing-aid specialists (also called hearing-instrument specialists). Name-brand stores more often use the latter.

Both types of professionals can evaluate your hearing and fit your hearing aids. But their training varies significantly. Newly minted audiologists must have a doctoral degree (generally the Au.D.), pass national and sometimes state tests, and have more than 1,000 hours of clinical training. Hearing-aid specialists generally have from six months to two years of supervised training or a two-year college degree and in most states must pass licensing tests. They can also seek national certification.

You might not necessarily know when you walk in the door which professional you are dealing with. Our shoppers occasionally encountered two or three types working at the same office. Our survey respondents had a difficult time even making distinctions among professionals; 87 percent said they’d visited audiologists, though many had gone to vendors known in the industry to be staffed primarily with hearing-aid specialists.

Does it matter whether the office is staffed by an audiologist or a hearing-aid specialist? Audiologists have broader training and, unlike hearing-aid specialists, can treat auditory conditions that might be better addressed without hearing aids, such as balance problems.

But both types of professionals made mistakes in fitting the aids purchased by our 12 shoppers. Audiologists made fewer serious fitting errors than did hearing-aid specialists, but in about two-thirds of all of the fittings, patients ended up with incorrect amplification.

In the sections that follow, we provide advice on how to increase your chances of getting a good hearing-aid fitting, regardless of which type of hearing-aid provider you choose.

Consider practical things, too, in your choice of provider. Check with your state to make sure the professionals’ licenses are current, and with the Better Business Bureau or state attorney general’s office for complaints.

Make sure the location and office hours are convenient. Ask whether the office does walk-in repairs rather than requiring you to make an appointment. Ask about hearing-rehabilitation services or support groups for after you get your hearing aids. Experts we interviewed said that those elements might be important for your long-term satisfaction with your aids.

For more information on our services, call our office to make an appointment.

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795 Primera Blvd. – Suite 1031
Lake Mary, FL 32746

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We recognize the significant impact the COVID-19 pandemic has already had and will continue to have on your day-to-day lives. No one knows how long or severe this crisis will be. However, please know that Lake Mary ENT & Allergy will do everything possible to protect the public health, to heal those who are suffering, and hopefully be beacons of hope in our community. We understand that you may be anxious and fearful at this time. As the typical viral season winds down and allergy season ramps up, it may be difficult to tell if your symptoms are due to your allergies or possibly COVID-19. We are here to help you during these difficult days ahead.

We understand the importance of our role as your healthcare provider, particularly for patients with asthma and other allergic conditions who may be at higher risk of experiencing severe symptoms with COVID-19. We are committed to helping you navigate through this difficult period. It is imperative that you keep your asthma and other allergic conditions under control during these next few months. This means taking your medications as prescribed to you by Dr Damask, including your allergy shots or allergy drops and if you are on a biologic medication that you keep up your regime with your in-office injections.

Dr Damask and her staff at Lake Mary ENT & Allergy want you to know that we are taking great care to ensure proper sterilization of the instruments used for examination and we are also maintaining a sanitary office environment for all our patients by disinfecting the exam rooms after each patient.

We have rearranged our waiting room to promote social distancing and we have set up a special area just for patients with respiratory symptoms. We also have appropriate supplies for hand washing as well as hand sanitizer for your use in the office. If you are interested in alternatives to in person visits, contact the office about telehealth options. We are now offering virtual visits through a webcam or your phone.

Please follow the CDC recommendations regarding measures such as frequent handwashing and not touching your face. If you are experiencing symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath AND have had recent international travel/been on a cruise OR have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, please contact the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-877-VIRUSHQ or 1-866-779-6121 to speak with a clinical expert about your concerns and receive guidance on the next steps that are right for you. We will keep you informed if there are any changes to our policies or changes to our office hours. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.