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When it comes to getting hearing help where do you start?

With hearing as with vision, it’s never too late to deal with problems. But where do you start? Do you go to an audiologist or to your physician? My advice is to start with your physician. He or she will send you to an ENT—that stands for an ear, nose, and throat doctor, also called an otolaryngologist, which took me quite a while to spell correctly! The term is a combination of four ancient Greek words: ος, ear; ίς, nose; λάρυγξ, larynx; and -λογία, study.[1] Wikipedia, where I got this etymology, points out that audiology is the oldest medical specialty in the United States. At any given time, half of the population has ear, nose, or throat issues.

Why go to a physician and not directly to an audiologist, many of whom call themselves doctors? First and foremost, only a physician—that is, an MD—is trained to diagnose your hearing problem’s cause, which can range from garden-variety earwax blockages to infections to much more serious problems, including tumors. You will see the audiologist on the recommendation of your ENT after the ENT examines you. The audiologist to whom the ENT refers you will probably work in the ENT’s office or be associated with the ENT in some other way. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it’s a good place to start. But don’t delay the sooner you go the sooner you will be in position to solve your hearing issues.