When to Refer

When to Refer

At Hearing Institute Atlantic, we are committed to making hearing health care easier for you. Below is an overview of commonly encountered hearing health concerns that may warrant a hearing evaluation by an Audiologist. If you encounter any of the symptoms or conditions below, please refer your patient to us for a complimentary hearing evaluation.

Hearing Loss and/or Communication Difficulties

Common symptoms:

  • Increased difficulty hearing in noisy environments or groups
  • Complaint that people mumble or don’t speak clearly
  • Asking frequently for repetition
  • Effortful listening, straining to hear, turning their “good ear” to the source of sound

Frequently, hearing sensitivity changes very gradually, and individuals compensate for the decreased hearing with other available cues. Hearing loss often goes unnoticed until it is affecting your patient’s quality of life. Therefore, even if your patients aren’t complaining about their hearing, any patient over the age of 40 should have a baseline hearing test. Refer your patients for a hearing evaluation as part of their overall health and wellness plan.

Tinnitus: Ringing in the Ears or Head

Common symptoms:

  • Ringing/hissing/buzzing one or both ears, or the head
  • Frustration and/or anxiety about the sound

Tinnitus is a symptom that can result from a wide range of underlying causes, but most often hearing loss. There are those individuals who experience tinnitus and those who suffer from tinnitus. This distinction is of great importance and should be diagnosed by a certified Audiologist. An Audiologist will also be able to provide tinnitus counseling and management strategies.

Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SSNHL)

Common symptoms:

  • Rapid onset of hearing loss in one or both ears that occurs within a 72 hour period.

Steps for the Family Physician:

  • Patient should be referred immediately for a hearing evaluation with an Audiologist. Stress that it has been a sudden hearing loss and they will be seen the same day.
  • If confirmed to be a SSNHL, some physicians prescribe corticosteroid therapy at their discretion, or immediately refer for an ENT consultation.
  • For more information:  sudden-hearing-loss


Common symptoms:

  • Feelings of unsteadiness or off-balance
  • Light-headedness
  • Feel as though the room is spinning around them, or they are spinning
  • Headaches

Steps for Family Physician:

  • Refer to an Audiologist for a comprehensive hearing evaluation with an extensive case history.
  • The audiologist will provide you a report that will guide you in your decision-making if your patient requires further referral.
  • Most Ear Nose and Throat physicians require a hearing test by an audiologist to schedule an appointment.