Wondering who to talk to if you think you have hearing loss? You’re not alone. Many people aren’t sure who to go to if they want to test their hearing, talk about their hearing concerns, or get help for hearing loss.
At Starkey, we recommend you see a hearing care professional about your hearing loss. The other option is to discuss it with your primary care physician. You can’t go wrong either way. But in a recent Starkey Sound Bites podcast, our own Dave Fabry, Ph.D, an experienced audiologist, and Starkey’s Chief Health Officer, Dr. Archelle Georgiou, explain why we recommend talking to a hearing care professional.
We’ve transcribed their answer below, which has been edited for length and clarity.
Dave Fabry, Ph.D. — Let's come back to you, Archelle, for our next question. And that one is, why should I see a hearing care professional about my hearing loss, versus just visiting my primary care physician?
Dr. Archelle Georgiou — Well, I was trained as a primary care physician. I'm an internist and there're also family practitioners, there are some other doctors that work as primary care physicians. So I feel like I have license to say the following: What I'd say is that primary care physicians are generalists. They know a little bit about a lot of things.
So for example, Dave, if you sprained your ankle, which is a very complicated joint, if you went to your primary care physician, or PCP, they don't have the equipment or the expertise to tell you whether it's a sprain or a fracture. And they shouldn't guess because that can be a dangerous, poor outcome for your ankle.
They know even less about hearing. So if you have any complaints about your hearing, they might be able to do some direct observation of the ear. They can diagnose an ear infection. They can certainly do that. But to actually test your hearing, they don't have the equipment or the expertise to do that.
So I want to make it really clear that a good primary care physician is not one that tries to go beyond what they've been taught to do. A good doctor, a good PCP, is one who asks you whether you have any difficulty hearing. And if you just say yes, then having them refer you to a hearing instrument specialist or an audiologist is the best thing that they can do for you. Because anything else that they attempt to do is outside of the scope of their training. It may not be outside the scope of their licensure, but it is outside the scope of their training.
Dave Fabry, Ph.D. — I think that's a great point. In working with my primary care physician, I know that she will take care of my primary needs, as you say. But then if I need a referral to a specialist, that is the next action that will be required. Primary care physicians in the U.S. are often still the primary gatekeeper on the hearing journey, where a patient will — because of that trust that they have with their primary care physician — they'll begin to ask the question there.
Dr. Archelle Georgiou — Absolutely. It's hard being a PCP. Every single patient that comes through your door is going to have a slightly different set of symptoms and the human body is really complex. So a good PCP knows what they know and they know what they don't know, and they quickly refer to get the person the best care that they can.
To find a nearby hearing care professional or audiologist who can test your hearing and consult with you about any hearing loss, simply type your zip code in here. You’ll generate a list of local providers who you can reach out to.
To listen to this Starkey Sound Bites podcast (as well as past and future episodes) look for it wherever you get your podcasts.
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