Hearing Loss

Frequently Asked Questions

15. What do I do if I think I have a hearing loss?

If you think that you have a hearing problem, schedule an appointment with your family doctor. In some cases, he or she can identify the problem and prescribe treatment.

Your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist -- a doctor who is trained in medicine and surgery who specializes in ear, nose, and throat diseases.

  • An otolaryngologist will try to find out why you have a hearing loss and offer treatment options. He or she will ask you for your medical history, ask if other family members have hearing problems, do a thorough exam, and prescribe any needed tests.

Your doctor may recommend that you also visit an audiologist. An audiologist is a health professional who can identify and measure hearing loss.

  • The audiologist will use a device called an audiometer to test your ability to hear sounds of different pitch and loudness. The tests are painless. Audiologists do not prescribe medications or perform surgery. If you need a hearing aid, an audiologist can help you choose the right one.

Another kind of hearing professional known as a hearing instrument specialist (or hearing aid specialist) can provide services such as

  • assessing your hearing
  • prescribing and fitting hearing aids for you
  • helping you with assistive technology
  • counseling and rehabilitating you
  • evaluating and helping you with treatment of tinnitus, swim or ear molds, and noise protectors.

Sudden sensorineural hearing loss, or sudden deafness, is a rapid loss of hearing. It can happen to a person all at once or over a period of up to 3 days. It should be considered a medical emergency. If you or someone you know experiences sudden sensorineural hearing loss, you should visit a doctor immediately.

Learn more about sudden deafness.