Most people are accustomed to making regular checkups a routine part of their medical care. Annual physicals, dental exams and vision tests are all commonplace. So why not our hearing? Fewer individuals pay attention to their hearing, however. It’s not that they intentionally neglect their hearing; many are simply unaware of how often they should get their hearing tested, and the number of physicians recommending routine hearing evaluations is small.
How often you get your hearing tested depends on your age. Newborn hearing screenings are essential, of course, and regular checkups throughout childhood are commonplace. But few adults give their hearing much thought unless they are experiencing a noticeable loss in hearing ability. By then, their options for treatment may be more limited.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) guidelines state that healthy adults aged 18-40 who are not experiencing any noticeable hearing loss should have their hearing tested every three to five years. More frequent hearing tests are recommended for any of the following individuals:
People over the age of 60. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is common; as we age, cumulative damage to the hair cells in the inner ear becomes more prevalent, affecting the ability to understand high frequencies. One out of three individuals experiences presbycusis by the age of 65; that number increases to one out of two by the age of 75. Annual hearing tests are recommended for all adults beginning at the age of 60, regardless of whether or not they are experiencing symptoms.
People who are exposed to loud noises. Noise-induced hearing loss is almost as common as presbycusis, and affects individuals of all ages. Those who are frequently exposed to loud noises have a higher risk of suffering permanent damage to their hearing. People who work in noisy environments (e.g., construction and manufacturing), regularly participate in noisy activities (concerts, hunting, riding motorcycles) or are employed in professions where sudden loud noises are common – such as law enforcement and the military – should have their hearing checked once a year.
People with hearing loss. This might seem counterproductive, but even if you have been diagnosed with hearing loss and wear hearing aids, it’s more important than ever to have your hearing tested on a regular basis. Because hearing continues to change over time, it’s important that your treatment is as up-do-date as possible to ensure you are receiving the maximum benefit. These patients should have their hearing tested at least once a year.
If you are interested in learning more, or want to schedule an appointment for a hearing test, reach out to us by email or call 415-580-7604.