As more of the American population ages, hearing loss is becoming more prevalent, pushing more individuals to make contact with a hearing healthcare professional, such as an audiologist – often for the very first time.

If you’re one of the 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss and you’ve never seen an audiologist, it’s perfectly normal to find it daunting to pick up the phone and set an appointment. Questions likely swarm the mind, sometimes to the point that they prevent people from picking up the phone altogether.

The best way to initiate your search for an audiologist is to know that the phone call and subsequent visit(s) are important steps to leading a more fulfilling life. That said, with so many audiologists available, it’s hard to know whom to call. Consider these tips when making your first audiologist appointment.

Ask trusted medical professionals

Don’t just flip through the phone book or perform a Google search. While internet research can be valuable, it is wiser to first seek out the advice of your primary care physician. PCPs will often have a couple of trusted audiologists they regularly refer their patients to.

Ask friends or family

Consider asking friends and friends or family members who have a relationship with an audiologist for their suggestions or recommendations. Because these people are close to you, they are likely to provide the most accurate reviews of how well or poorly an audiologist takes care of his or her patients.

Ask your insurance provider

While most hearing aids aren’t covered by insurance, visits to audiologists sometimes are. As such, insurance companies will sometimes provide recommendations for audiologists. A bonus of going this route is that your insurance will likely suggest a provider who is in network with your insurance plan.

Seek out a good reputation

When choosing an audiologist, consider how long the practice has been in business. An audiologist who has practiced for a decade will have a reputation – good or bad – that can attract or deter new patients. The downside of seeking out a highly valued and reputable audiologist is that his or her availability might be more limited than a newer practicing professional. 

Other important factors to consider

It is also important to consider the distance of a practice from your home. Should you need immediate help or advice, it’s always wiser to have a professional closer to where you live. Additionally, consider if the audiologist has a solo practice or works with others. Partnerships can provide patients with additional help and options for care.