If you’ve never been to an audiologist, it can seem a bit intimidating to find the right one. Because your hearing is so important, it’s vital to find an audiologist you like and trust. Selecting the right audiologist doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Here are a few things to consider in your search.

What is an audiologist?

An audiologist specializes in evaluation hearing. These professionals work with adults, children and infants. Most have specific training and education, including a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.), a Doctor of Philosophy in Audiology (Ph.D.) or a Doctor of Science in Audiology (Sc.D.). Audiologists must be licensed by the state.

With their medical and clinical experience, audiologists perform a range of services and provide much more than hearing tests. Audiologists can diagnose and treat auditory nerve function, balance disorders, ringing of the ears (tinnitus), earwax removal, ear infections and more.

How do I choose an audiologist?

There are several ways to find the right audiologist. Referrals from family and friends may be best, because they can tell you about their experiences and interactions with the audiologist. Your family doctor may recommend an audiologist, or you can search the internet for local audiologists and check out their websites and practices.

It’s important to feel comfortable with your audiologist. These professionals are trained in counseling and communication to help patients deal with hearing issues, including hearing loss. Audiologists also have an understanding of your budget when it comes to treatment and hearing aids. A good reference will help you feel comfortable about your first visit.

What else should I consider?

It’s easy to focus on the person when it comes to choosing an audiologist, but there are other things to consider. Location is important because you will make more than one visit to the office if you’re diagnosed with hearing loss or other problems. You want a convenient location that’s close enough to home that it doesn’t feel like a chore to see the audiologist.

Before your first visit, call the office and ask questions. You want to find a friendly staff that’s willing to help. The staff should be able to answer questions about visit costs, insurance and office hours.

Also, determine if you are more comfortable with a sole practitioner or a group practice. Each has its own benefits.

Selecting the right audiologist might seem more difficult than selecting your primary care provider, but it doesn’t have to be. Taking time to ask advice of others and doing a bit of research will go a long way toward a comfortable first visit and subsequent appointments. Communication is the primary factor in finding a professional who can assist you with one of the most important things in life – hearing.