Often, we make annual check-ups with our family doctor, dentist and ophthalmologist. But what about the health of our ears? With the rest of the body to keep in mind, it can be easy to overlook hearing tests. Experts recommend an initial hearing test when you reach adulthood and every year after the age of 55. But, these exams can be important for any age.
A Gradual Process
Hearing loss happens gradually and can make it difficult to distinguish issues. It can take years for patients to realize they need treatment. With the help of annual visits, you could save yourself from profound hearing loss in the future.
Who’s At Risk?
Mainly two factors contribute to changes in hearing – age and noise. Hearing loss from aging is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. One in three Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 experience some form of hearing loss. In addition, those working in occupational hazards such as loud environments may be at higher risk for developing hearing problems.
Screening and Testing
To ensure proper ear health, it’s important to understand the difference between screening and testing. Screening identifies possible hearing loss by detecting your ability to hear sounds in different situations. If you pass your screening, it’s assumed you don’t suffer from any hearing impairment. If you fail, further in-depth testing is required to assess the type of hearing loss present.
Hearing checks are necessary routinely throughout life, but individual circumstances play an additional role. The Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals (AIHHP) recommends the following guidelines:
Ages 18-45 – every five years
Ages 45-60 – every three years
60+ years – every two years
While these are great guidelines to adhere to, a common misconception is that hearing should be checked only when problems are noticed. Since hearing loss is hard to detect, this could mean individuals notice a problem much later than those around them. Additionally, if everyone has their hearing checked universally, patients do not feel labeled or old because of hearing issues. Seek guidance from your audiologist to figure out what’s best for you.