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People typically make annual check-up appointments as part of their healthcare routine. This usually includes yearly physicals, vision evaluations, and dental screenings. Hearing health is often missing from these routine check-ins. In a recent study conducted by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), researchers found that only 2 in 10 adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years. Whereas nearly 6 in 10 adults who have had their vision tested. This highlights how hearing health is generally overlooked which can result in undiagnosed hearing loss – the third most common condition people experience today. So how often should you get a hearing test?
Recommended Guidelines for Hearing Tests
Hearing tests are an important way to assess and track hearing health. This is especially important because hearing loss typically occurs gradually so it can remain unnoticed for quite some time. A hearing test identifies any hearing impairment which informs effective treatment options. ASHA recommends that for adults, ages 18-40, who are not experiencing noticeable symptoms, have their hearing assessed every 3 years. But for people who are more vulnerable to experiencing hearing loss, hearing tests should occur more frequently. This includes:
- People 60 and above: the risk of developing hearing loss increases with age. Older adults are disproportionately impacted by hearing loss. In fact.
- 1 in 3 adults, ages 65-74 have some degree of hearing loss.
- 1 in 2 adults, ages 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.
Age related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, can be caused by a few factors. This includes the cumulative toll of loud noise exposure, existing medical conditions which also increase the risk of hearing loss (diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis etc.), and changes to the ear.
- People exposed to loud noise: another common cause of hearing loss is loud noise. Noise induced hearing loss occurs when the hair cells in the inner ear are damaged. These sensory cells send auditory information to the brain so if they lose sensitivity and/or die, this process is disrupted which causes hearing loss. According to the Hearing Health Foundation, 22 million people are exposed to hazardous levels of noise in the workplace every year. Additionally, the World Health Organization estimates that over 1 billion people, ages 12-35, are vulnerable to noise induced hearing loss as a result of loud noise exposure from personal audio devices as well as public venues.
- People with hearing loss: people who already have diagnosed hearing loss should really have their hearing checked. This allows any changes to hearing health to be tracked. It also helps ensure that your hearing needs are still being met optimally.
If you are 60+, regularly exposed to loud noise, or have hearing loss; it is important to have your hearing assessed every year.
What to Expect from a Hearing Test
Hearing tests involve a painless and noninvasive process that is facilitated by a hearing healthcare specialist. The testing process consists of:
- Intake: similar to most medical appointments, there is an intake process that includes discussing your hearing health history as well as symptoms you may be experiencing and concerns you have.
- Ear inspection: the hearing healthcare specialist will take a look in your ears and check for any obstructions like accumulated earwax or growths that can contribute to hearing loss.
- Hearing test: there are a few types of hearing tests, one of the most common is the Pure Audiometry Test. This involves wearing headphones while sounds at different pitches are played and indicating what you can hear.
Your results will be presented to you on an audiogram which is a chart that shows your hearing abilities in each ear. If hearing loss is detected, the degree of impairment will inform treatment options that can best meet your hearing needs. If hearing loss is not detected, these results establish a helpful baseline for where your hearing health is at. This makes it easier to track any changes you may experience over time.
Prioritize Your Hearing Health Today
If you haven’t had a hearing test in recent years, call us to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. This will allow us to get to know you and learn more about your hearing health. Incorporating hearing evaluations in your annual health check-ins is a great way to protect your hearing health which is integral to your overall health and wellness.