When it comes to hearing aids local audiologist Patricia Kao-Hutt, Au.D, warns not to trust any white coat.
Kao-Hutt has more than 2,000 clocked clinical hours, a doctorate of audiology, and has been recognized by Arizona State University and A.T. Still University for her help training doctorate students. Hearing aid dispensers are only required to have a high school education and pass a state certification test.
While Kao-Hutt recognizes there are many good hearing aid dispensers, audiologists do so much more and may be what a patient really needs to get their hearing questions answered.
“Hearing aids are like computers or any other technology,” Kao-Hutt said. “There’s a wide range of computers and there’s a wide range of stereo systems. All hearing aids look the same but it’s the chip inside that makes a big difference. You want to make sure you have someone qualified to set the chip. Anyone can turn on a computer, but you want to make sure you’re setting it properly to meet the patient’s needs. That’s hugely important.”
Audiologists look at much more than how a hearing aid fits and turning the volume up or down. A trained audiologist can look at different frequencies and compression bands and dissect exactly what a patient’s needs are, even if they don’t know the technical terms to describe what they’re hearing.
Kao-Hutt said she’s worked in clinics where she, as an audiologist, wore the same uniform as a technician and often patients were sent to technicians to simply save time. She’s also had patients who came to her after getting a hearing aid and learning their hearing had never even been tested.
After helping set up clinics and working in different clinics and hospitals, Kao-Hutt has finally opened her own audiology office in Ahwatukee Foothills. Her goal is to provide the best care for her patients and make sure their true needs are being met.
“Hearing is not life and death, but it definitely affects quality of life,” she said. “With hearing loss a lot of times it causes people to become more withdrawn. They might be embarrassed to answer a question. I asked a woman, ‘Do you have cats or dogs?’ and she said, ‘Yes, I bought them at Target.’ They see that you’re giving them a strange look and then they feel bad and they’re not sure how to respond in the conversation. A lot of times they just smile and nod but you know they’re not catching on. It would be depressing to be socially withdrawn or have people not want to approach you because they have to repeat themselves so many times. Hearing is not a luxury. It’s something we often take for granted until something goes wrong.”
Kao-Hutt specializes in custom ear molds for athletes, artists, gun enthusiasts and motorcyclists; hearing aids; and repair. Her office is located at 15825 S. 46th St., Suite 127. For more information, call (480) 652-0680 or visit www.alohahearingsolutions.com.
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