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Last Updated on 17 December 2018

Ear Health: The Importance of Seeing an Audiologist


If you’ve started to notice that your hearing ability has decreased over recent years, you may want to visit an audiologist.

Audiologists specialise in ear health and can assist you with all matters related to your ears.

Despite the importance of audiologists in medicine, many people fail to visit them regularly. If it’s been over a year since your last audiologist appointment, we recommend you book one as soon as you can.

Key Points
  • An audiologist will be able to help you with all ear health matters including hearing loss, tinnitus, earwax buildup, and inner-ear problems relating to balance.
  • Hearing impairment is a growing problem in Australia
  • Audiology consultation fees may be covered by Medicare for eligible individuals only. To check your eligibility, you can visit the hearing services website. Many private insurers also cover impromptu visits and hearing aids.

Why Visit an Audiologist?

It’s common for many of us to ignore physical problems rather than going to the doctor. A toothache, for instance, can threaten to eat away at our jaw before we make it to the dentist. Our backs might be spasming for months before the pain is so much that we have to see the GP.

Many people adopt the same mentality when it comes to ear health. They wait until their hearing has deteriorated to the point they need hearing aids to explore possible solutions.

Audiologists cover all aspects of ear health. If you start losing your hearing, your balance is off, or your ears start ringing non-stop, an Audiologist may have the answer for you.

Hearing impairment is far more common than you might know, and you could be suffering from it yourself.

Regular audiologist checkups may be critical for your overall health. While you may only be experiencing slight hearing loss, it still may be necessary to make a change. An audiologist will be able to advise you on this matter.

My Doctor Checked My Ears. Is This Enough?

In short: probably not.

Your primary care physician will check your ears for earwax buildup. This does not cover other basic ear health concerns, such as hearing loss, tinnitus, and potential loss of balance.

Your doctor will be able to tell if your ears are producing too much earwax, and can even clear them for you. An audiologist, however, will go deeper into the cause of the excessive buildup.

Earwax provides a benefit for us, but too much of it can lead to a temporary hearing loss. If you think your ears are over producing ear wax, consider booking an appointment with an audiologist. They’ll be able to clean your ears and assess whether or not you need further care.

Ensure you refrain from cleaning out your ears on your own. You could end up irreparably damaging your ear canal or eardrum.

Hearing Impairment is a Problem in Australia

Not many people know how prevalent hearing loss is in our society. It’s a disability that affects one of the largest numbers of people in the country, coming in ahead of heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.

Common disabilities in Australia including hearing loss

Knowledge is the first line of defence against hearing loss, and visiting an audiologist will arm you with information. Noise pollution and loud music are two prevalent causes of hearing loss that are around us every day.

Hearing Loss is on the Rise

It may be a good idea to bring your children to see an audiologist, so they understand the consequences of listening to loud music. This demographic is more likely to blast music through their headphones, which can lead to long-term hearing impairment.

We need to stop this behaviour in its tracks, so kids don’t grow up to become the one in six Australians who experience hearing loss in their lifetime.

Predictions for future hearing loss

Noise pollution is one of the other major factors in hearing loss. Even though the Australian government regulates loud noises from work environments, that doesn’t mean we’re completely safe from environmental noise.

Ear Conditions Separate From Hearing Loss

Since audiologists cover all matters relating to the ear, you shouldn’t exclusively visit one if you think you’re losing your hearing. There are several other times when a visit to the audiologist might be in order.

If your ears are always ringing, you might suffer from tinnitus. Tinnitus is an inner-ear disorder that commonly causes a high-pitched ringing in the ear. It might be continuous or infrequent, and the specific sound might vary from case to case.

There’s no cure for tinnitus, but there are several treatments an audiologist may recommend. Sometimes, discontinuing the use of certain medications might do the trick for the time being.

Woman holding sore ear

Is an Audiologist Covered by Insurance?

As far as audiologist coverage goes, this will vary from person to person. Most coverage plans will include some audiologist cover, especially if your doctor refers you.

If you rely on the Medicare system for healthcare, you’ll need a doctor’s recommendation to receive coverage from the system. If the audiologist completes a checkup and advises you to obtain hearing aids or another hearing-assisted device, you’ll have to pay out of your pocket.

Medicare handles audiologists the same way they deal with ophthalmologists. It covers your checkup, but if you need any vision or hearing assistance, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.

If you have a private insurance plan, you’ll likely have coverage for your hearing aids. Don’t take cover as a given, though, and make sure you check with your provider if you think you need an audiologist visit.

Stay on Top of Your Ear Health

Audiologists are as essential as an ophthalmologist or primary care physician. You need to book an annual checkup to make sure everything in your ears is doing fine.

Ear health is one piece of overall health, but it’s one that we often ignore. It can be easy to tell when our vision is failing, but hearing loss can be tricky.

If you’re experiencing temporary or sustained hearing loss, constant ringing, or a loss of balance, visit the audiologist as soon as you can. Private insurance and Medicare both cover audiologist checkups, so you don’t have anything to lose. Hearing Aid Comparison can help you find and book a free test at a clinic near to you.

Frequently Asked Questions About Health Insurance

There are three types of health insurance in Australia. They are:

  • Hospital Cover
  • Extras Cover (also known as general or ancillary cover)
  • Ambulance Cover

Hospital cover can ensure any unexpected surgeries, treatments or hospital stays you may require will be covered. With appropriate cover you will have the flexibility to choose your own doctor and the option of receiving treatment in a private hospital.  Most hospital covers allow you to stay in a private room. One other perk is skipping the public hospital systems’ waiting list, which can be lengthy for non emergency treatment.

Extras cover pays benefits for a a range of services, often including treatments and procedures related to the fullowing:

  • Dental/oral health
  • Glasses and contact lenses
  • Podiatry
  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychulogy
  • Acupuncture
  • Remedial massage
  • Chiropractic
  • Hearing aids
  • Travel vaccinations

Ambulance cover, as the name suggests, will cover you should you require emergency ambulance transport. In an emergency, there is enough to worry about. Having the expenses covered for provides security and peace of mind. Many hospital covers include emergency ambulance transport If yours doesn’t, you will need to shop for this separately.

Life is unpredictable. You never know when you might need cover. No matter what life stage you’re in, there’s a policy out there for everyone. You can select as much or as little cover as you want, depending on your health needs and requirements. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind health cover provides.

There is no one answer here. Costs vary across providers and policy types. Just because a policy is cheap, that does not mean it is ‘value for money’ and vise versa. Make sure you check what’s included and excluded in a policy before signing up, as you want to purchase a policy that best fits your specific needs.

Premium: A premium is the price you pay for your insurance policy (it may be paid annually or on an ongoing basis).

Policy: An insurance plan. In other words, it is the type of insurance you choose to select.

Policy Holder: The owner, or ‘holder’ of a policy.

Claim: In the event that you require treatment for a service covered by your policy, you can lodge a claim for reimbursement of all or part of the cost of that treatment.. These days, most claims are submitted electronically by the health care provider (dentist, physio etc)

Lifetime Health Cover: Lifetime Health Cover was put in place to encourage young Australians to seek out and maintain ownership of private health insurance early in their lives. If you do not take out a policy before you turn 31, extra charges will be applied should you take out a policy at a later time.

This means you will pay a 2% loading on top of your premium for every year that passes after you turn 30. For example, if you take out a policy for the first time at age 32, you will be charged 4% of your premium as an extra, then at age 40, 20% and so on, up to a maximum loading of 70%.

The loading is payable for 10 consecutive years of cover - after which it is removed and you premiums will be reduced.

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS): Medicare offers assistance for Australians with many of their their prescribed medication costs through the PBS. This assistance is in the form of subsidies towards the cost of many medications. You can check if your prescribed medication is on the list of subsidised items here.

Medicare Levy Surcharge: The Medicare Levy Surcharge is an additional charge (tax) applied to single Australian taxpayers who earn over the income threshold of $90,000 per year, or families/couples who earn over $180,000 per year. This surcharge is only applied to those who choose not to have a private health insurance policy.

The surcharge is designed to reduce pressure on the public health system by encouraging those with higher incomes to invest in private health cover.

Private Health Insurance Rebate: The government’s Private Health Insurance rebate lowers premiums for most Australians with private health insurance Older Australians may enjoy an even higher rebate. Our calculator can help you estimate the Government health insurance rebate you may receive.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication


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