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Sponsored content: Should you see an audiologist or a hearing aid specialist? And what's the difference?

If you have hearing loss, you may be wondering what your next step should be. Should you see a hearing aid specialist or an audiologist? (Or both?) And what's the difference?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. The most critical difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid specialist is the amount of qualifying education. An audiologist must have a Doctor of Audiology degree, which requires four years of academic and clinical training in addition to a four-year bachelor's degree. While it varies by state, the educational requirements are comparatively minimal for hearing aid specialists — typically the basic requirement is a high school diploma, passing a license exam and a brief apprenticeship or training program with a licensed hearing aid specialist.

Furthermore, a hearing aid specialist's salary is likely to be commission-based, which means they don't earn money unless they sell you a hearing aid. (And they earn more if they sell you a pricier one.) An audiologist's salary is not commission-based. There is no built-in conflict between their bottom line and your best interests. Their loyalty is to you. And since hearing aid technology has changed significantly even in the last five years, they have to stay current on that technology, so they can offer their patients the best solutions for their particular hearing loss.

The final difference lies in the scope of the practice. For a hearing aid specialist, the work centers around the more common types of hearing loss, screening for them, and the devices designed to address them. Alternatively, an audiologist is versed in everything hearing and balance related — diseases, genetic conditions, treatments, management strategies, rehabilitation therapy — as well as properly choosing, fitting and programming hearing assistance devices.

Regardless of the cause of your hearing loss, the benefits of working with an audiologist to treat it cannot be overstated. Their doctorate-level understanding of the myriad of causes of hearing loss goes far beyond any particular hearing device and extends to the realities of the individual patient. There are scores of reasons for hearing loss — from fevers, genetic conditions and high-decibel damage to tumors, MS and Meniere's disease — so no one device will work for every patient, or every type of hearing loss. You have to understand the reasons for and mechanics of your hearing loss before you can determine the exact solution that will work best for you.

"Our doctors make the difference"

The board-certified audiologists at Davis Family Hearing are dedicated to helping people of all ages who suffer from hearing loss. They test, screen, and work with patients to determine exactly what they can and cannot hear, to pinpoint the cause(s) of their hearing loss, and to understand their personality and lifestyle so that they can recommend the best-possible solution. Their team of caring professionals is not commissioned; their loyalty is to the patient, not any particular device or manufacturer. This is why you can be confident that the solution you ultimately decide on will be the best solution for you.

Explains founder and board-certified audiologist Joanie Davis, "Our slogan says 'Our doctors make the difference' because we care about the patient, not the product. It was my goal to create an audiology practice that could help everyone — from infants to seniors — with better hearing, and provide every patient with the highest level of care. Our practice was built on the premise that every patient who comes in to be treated should feel like part of the family."

Davis Family Hearing specializes in all types of hearing aids, including cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids; and offers treatment for tinnitus, screenings and assessment of children and adults, and implantable device assessment. Its team also participates in community outreach with the Starkey Hearing Foundation Tampa Bay Project.

If you know or suspect you have hearing loss and want to work with a board-certified audiologist to find the optimum solution, contact one of Davis Family Hearing's three offices at (352) 666-8910, or visit them online at www.davisfamilyhearing.com. View the promotional video about the practice at https://youtu.be/GFmQet0yRY0.

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