During a person’s life, hearing loss can appear at any time and occur for many reasons. Noise exposure and aging are two of the most common causes, and hearing loss may progress slowly or occur unexpectedly in both cases.
In your early years, you probably had regular hearing screenings. To track hearing loss at an early age, these regular hearing tests are given at the hospital, doctor’s office, and at your school. Early diagnosis of hearing loss helps to avoid developmental problems as a result of the hearing loss.
However, these screenings are no longer mandatory as we reach maturity, and our hearing health becomes our responsibility. Some medical doctors provide a hearing screening during a routine check-up. Otherwise, unless we take the initiative, we no longer get our hearing screened regularly.
Since hearing loss can happen gradually and affects two-thirds of adults over the age of 60, it is important to keep tabs on your hearing abilities.
General guidelines on hearing tests
Here is how often you should be tested, according to your age or current conditions:
- Adults up to 50 years of age: Adults should get their hearing checked every few years. This timeframe should be shortened if you regularly listen to music at a high volume or often attend noisy public events.
- Adults over 50 years of age: The standard recommendation is that hearing checks should be done regularly by over fifty years old. Since noise damage tends to add up, hearing loss is more likely to affect your life as you get older.
- Adults exposed to loud noise: You should get your hearing checked at least once a year if your work environment is loud. Even if you are wearing protective devices, you are at high risk of damage to your inner ear hair cells, resulting in hearing loss. You should also have your hearing tested once a year if you have interests or recreational activities involving loud noise (shooting firearms, hunting, etc.).
- Hearing loss: Hearing loss is often times a progressive condition, and this means that over time it can get more severe. Annual testing is necessary to ensure that you know any changes to your hearing and if your care needs to be changed. If your hearing has changed considerably, you may need to reprogram your hearing aids or switch to a new model entirely.
Why it is essential to monitor your hearing
We often track blood pressure and cholesterol and assess cancer, diabetes, and heart disease risks with our annual physical. The same preventative steps should be applied to our hearing health.
Research has shown in recent years that hearing is not just for our ears. Our hearing ability influences many facets of our health and life. An increased risk of dementia, cognitive decline, increased loneliness, and higher incidences of depression have been associated with untreated hearing loss. Sooner rather than later, identifying and treating hearing loss will retain our overall health and wellbeing.
There is simply no time to waste, but unfortunately, research shows most of us take years to acknowledge our hearing loss and seek help. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how often you should get a hearing test, the fact is that hearing tests should be an important part of your health regimen!
Recognize the signs of hearing loss
Common signs of hearing loss include:
- Turning up the volume extremely high on the TV or radio
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Believing that people are mumbling or not speaking clearly
- Difficulty understanding speech against background noise
Hearing loss is an invisible condition, which means most of us will not be aware that our hearing abilities have changed. Since hearing loss occurs gradually, we may grow accustomed to the level of hearing we have at a given time. A comprehensive hearing evaluation with an audiologist will give you insight on your hearing abilities and can determine whether you can benefit from hearing assistance.
The Hearing Health Center of Houston
Are you concerned about your hearing abilities? Are you just curious about your hearing since you haven’t had a hearing test in decades? Our Doctors of Audiology are here to help. We have the tools and the expertise to shine a light on your hearing health. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!