Should You See an ENT or a HHP?
If you are having problems with your ears and hearing, how do you know what type of doctor you should see? Hearing health professionals (HHPs) deal specifically with hearing loss. Otolaryngologists (ENTs) treat diseases and conditions of the ears, nose and throat. Both professionals are concerned about your ears and hearing, so how do you know who you should see?
The role of the HHP
HHPs are concerned with your ability to hear and any hearing loss you may be experiencing. HHPs can assess the level of hearing loss, determine what types of hearing assistance is appropriate and provide counseling for adapting to living with hearing loss. HHPs may also treat tinnitus; a few may treat balance disorders as well. If you have an underlying medical condition such as infection or malformation of the ear, the HHP is not your best choice.
The role of the ENT
ENTs are concerned with all aspects of the health of your ears, nose and throat. They treat many conditions, from infection to cancer to chronic sinusitis and allergies. ENTs are highly specialized medical doctors. They are not only skilled in the diagnosis and medical treatment of conditions of the ears, nose and throat but they are also certified as surgeons.
Some ENTs also perform hearing-related services, but they are not audiologists. If you are experiencing hearing loss as a result of an underlying medical condition, an ENT is more skilled and has the experience to treat medical conditions.
Which one do you call?
If your complaint is with pain in your ears or problems with balance or vertigo you should call the ENT. If a fever is present, you should call your primary care physician, who will likely refer you to an ENT. A HHP is not skilled in treating any condition that causes a fever. If you are mainly concerned with an assessment of your hearing, you can call the HHP.