There are many things to consider when deciding when and how much you need to get your hearing tested by an audiologist. First and foremost, one of the most important determining factors is whether or not you already have documented hearing loss. If you have no known diagnosis of hearing loss, you will likely not need to get your hearing checked as often. A few other things to consider are your age and exposure to loud noises from your occupation.
The difference between testing and screening
It might seem like testing and screening are the same things in the context of getting your hearing checked. However, people test their hearing when they or their healthcare providers have reason to believe that they are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss. Testing is often much more extensive and is typically known by experts as a “comprehensive hearing exam.” This comprehensive hearing exam entails sitting in a sound-proof booth while the tester measures your hearing levels and plots them on an audiogram.
Screening, on the other hand, is a quicker and easier process that is used when you do not have symptoms of hearing loss. Screening can be conducted by something as simple as an online questionnaire for example. This kind of hearing check is often needed if you have an occupation in which you are commonly exposed to loud noises.
When should I get my hearing checked if I have confirmed hearing loss?
Past testing will determine whether you have an official diagnosis of hearing loss and when/how often you ought to get your hearing checked. Getting your hearing tested periodically with a timeline determined by your hearing healthcare provider is your best bet for ensuring that you are equipped with resources to best enhance your hearing ability. If there are any changes to your hearing since your diagnosis, it is a good idea to notify your provider immediately and get it checked.
Because hearing ability is extremely dynamic, insofar as it can change subtly over time, it can be difficult to notice these changes. Thus it is best to get your hearing checked on a regular basis to ensure that you can get the professional help you need. For the majority of people, hearing loss gets worse as time passes.
Hearing aids should be checked periodically as well
Since hearing loss occurs over time, this means that you will likely need to get your hearing aids adjusted or even changed depending on how much your hearing ability declines. It is possible that your hearing declines to the degree that you will need new hearing aids that can strengthen your hearing even more than your original pair. Furthermore, just like any kind of machinery, your hearing aids deteriorate over time, and a replacement may be necessary.
You might be wondering how long a typical pair of hearing aids can last if you experience no changes in your hearing loss. The lifespan of hearing aids for the most part is between three and seven years, though there are major differences depending on the type of hearing aid you have. Experts say that it is important to be aware of this if you have cochlear implants or a bone-anchored hearing system. Be sure to check with your provider for how often you should get your hearing tested as well as how often to get your hearing aids adjusted/replaced.
Diving into groups specifically at-risk for hearing loss
You are likely aware from your own childhood experiences that infants and young children are routinely checked for their hearing ability. But you may be wondering which adults should be routinely screened.
In general, if you are a young/middle-aged adult with no symptoms of hearing loss, you likely do not need to get your hearing tested. However, older adults and certain kinds of employees should get their hearing screened often.
● Elderly adults: Experts say that people ages 60 or older ought to receive a baseline hearing test and have it rechecked every few years. This is helpful in determining whether they are experiencing hearing loss from old age and need to get hearing aids.
● People who work in loud environments: The general rule of thumb is that workers exposed to sounds louder than 85 decibels on a regular basis should get their hearing screened at least every couple of years.
What you should do if you think your hearing might be declining
It is always a good idea to get your hearing checked if you think it may have changed over time, regardless of whether you fit into any of the at-risk groups listed above. There are a variety of medications and health conditions that can, unfortunately, cause hearing loss in younger individuals, so be sure to look out for these side effects when there are changes to your health regimen/diagnosis.
It is possible also to have sudden hearing loss in one or both ears due to damage to the internal structures, and this should be treated as a medical emergency.
Hearing loss can affect your quality of life and health
It can definitely seem easy to brush off any instances of minor hearing loss. However, to best protect yourself from long-term detrimental health effects, it is important to have these changes checked by a specialist as soon as possible. One of the biggest things hearing loss can affect is your cognitive ability. Cognitive decline is linked to many incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Lastly, make sure you find a hearing provider with good ratings
If you are a part of any groups at-risk for hearing loss, you should consider seeing a provider to get your hearing screened. You can often find a friend or family member who has seen a hearing provider in the area and can give you honest feedback on the quality of their screening. It is also a good idea to make sure your insurance provider covers hearing testing and hearing aids if you struggle financially. Some hearing healthcare providers will only accept certain kinds of insurance, so be sure to check this as well.