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Dr. Ana Anzola - Feature Interview in Hearing Sound Advice

A double board-certified Audiologist who has been serving patients with communication issues for more than 20 years, Dr. Anzola has been named as the Washingtonian’s Top Doctor for Audiology for three years running, and has won the Angie’s List Super Service Award. Through her BBB-accredited practice, Dr. Anzola uses a unique hands-on approach to patient care, employing “a mix of experience and science in an effort to find the best solution for each individual.”

Dr. Anzola sat down with us to discuss some common communication issues she comes across in her practice, advances in the field of audiology, and what people should be looking for as they pursue better hearing health.

Hearing Sound Advice (HSA): For most people, taking care of their health means regular visits to their general practitioner, their dentist and their eye doctor. But we don’t always think about getting our hearing checked. Should we? And why?

Dr. Anzola: Absolutely you should! Your hearing is just as important as your eyes and your teeth, and it is a vital part of your overall well-being. Your hearing connects you to the places and people around you. Not being able to hear well leaves you disconnected from the people you love. It can negatively affect your work, your participation in your favorite activities, even your self-esteem.

HSA: When we’re looking for a service provider, should we be seeing an audiologist or an ear, nose and throat doctor?

Dr. Anzola: Audiologists specialize in hearing evaluation, hearing loss, tinnitus, hearing protection and hearing rehabilitation. ENTs are trained in the management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat – not specifically hearing-related issues.

HSA: When should someone visit an audiologist?

Dr. Anzola: Everybody over the age of 50 should visit an audiologist annually as part of their overall health care plan. If you experience hearing issues prior to the age of 50, book an appointment with an audiologist to get your hearing tested. For example, if you have trouble following conversations in restaurants or other loud places, or if you have a constant ringing or buzzing in your ears, no matter where you are or what you’re doing... Also, if you often ask people to repeat things because you’re not hearing them the first time, or if you’re turning up the volume on the TV or radio louder than everyone else thinks is necessary. If any of these things are happening to you, it’s time to visit an audiologist.

HSA: Can’t we just go to our local pharmacy, big box store or order online to obtain a pair of hearing aids?

Dr. Anzola: Proper fitting and programming for your hearing aids requires a seasoned, experienced audiologist to tailor the solution to your specific needs. This is the most important factor for patient satisfaction. Without proper fitting, issues such as poor sound quality, inadequate amplification and further hearing loss are more likely to develop. 

HSA: What factors should someone consider when looking for an audiologist?

Dr. Anzola: The most important things to look for when being evaluated and fitted for hearing aids is the experience and education of the hearing professional. Look for an audiologist who has at least 10 years of experience, and at the very minimum, a CCC-A professional certification. This is the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology. In addition, I would highly recommend that people work with an audiologist who holds a doctorate degree in Audiology – an AuD.

Also, look up the reviews of the audiologist. Don’t just listen to what the audiologist has to say. What’s most important is what their patients are saying about them. I find video reviews and testimonials tend to be the most authentic.

HSA: Should we be looking for audiologists who work with certain hearing aid manufacturers?

Dr. Anzola: I always suggest working with an audiologist who is familiar with many different hearing aid manufacturers, so they can meet your individual needs. There are so many new and advanced hearing aids on the market that do more than just make everything sound louder, but also filter background noise. You want to make sure you’re working with a professional who is familiar with – and has access to – the most recent models that use the latest digital technology.

HSA: Are we all set once we have our new hearing aids?

Dr. Anzola: Not quite! Your hearing will change over time, and your hearing aid will need adjustment and re-programming to meet your changing needs. It’s so important to develop a relationship with your audiologist. You want the confidence that comes from working with a seasoned expert who knows your needs, tracks your case history, and who you trust to take care of you every time you see them.

I always encourage patients to inquire about the type of after-care the audiologist provides. I suggest working an audiologist who provides their patients with online resources to help them adjust to their new hearing aids, and train their brains to recognize sounds they haven’t heard in a long time.

HSA: Is there anything else we should be asking our audiologist?

Dr. Anzola: Yes. Remember that you are visiting a medical office, and infection control should be of primary importance. I always recommend that patients work with audiologists that follow strict infection control practices. Furthermore, the audiologist should review infection control practices with you to ensure you don’t spread infection from your hearing aids.

And don’t forget, your hearing is part of your overall health. Work with an audiologist who has a patient-centered approach and reports back to your primary care physician about your hearing health.

HSA: What kinds of technologies are available with hearing aids today?

Dr. Anzola: Today’s hearing aids don’t just make everything louder – they have the capability to amplify the voice of the person you’re talking to, while diminishing background noise – while being practically invisible in your ears. They have microphones that can be directed towards people in your conversation. And many hearing aids these days connect wirelessly to your smartphone, opening up a whole new area for hearing aid users. It’s actually quite exciting! 

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