According to one recent survey, nearly 30% of Americans have gone more than ten years without getting a hearing test. Gretchen is one of those Americans. She knows to get her oil changed every 3000 miles, she sees the dentist every six months, and she reports dutifully for her annual medical exam. But she can’t remember the last time she took a hearing test or underwent any kind of accurate hearing assessment.
Hearing assessments are important for a wide variety of reasons, the most prominent of which is that it’s often difficult for you to discover the earliest signs of hearing loss without one. Knowing how often she should get a hearing test will help Gretchen keep her ears (and hearing) as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
Hearing Tests Over Fifty and Under Fifty
If the last time Gretchen took a hearing test was ten years ago, we might be alarmed. Or we might think it’s perfectly normal. Our reaction (and the reaction of her hearing specialist, likely) will vary depending on how old she is. That’s because hearing specialists have different recommendations based on age.
- If you are under fifty years old: It’s generally recommended that you undergo a hearing test once every three to ten years or so. There’s no harm in having your ears checked more often, of course! But once every ten years is the bare minimum.
- If you are over fifty years old: The general recommendation is that anyone over the age of fifty should undergo hearing checks annually. As you age, the noise damage you’ve incurred over a lifetime can start to accelerate, which means hearing loss is more likely to start affecting your life.
If you want to undergo hearing screenings or tests more often, there’s certainly no harm in that, at least in terms of your hearing. The sooner you detect any problems, the more quickly you’ll be able to address whatever hearing loss that might have developed since your last hearing test.
Signs of Hearing Loss to Watch (and Listen) For
Of course, your annual (or semi-annual) hearing test isn’t the only good time to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist. Sometimes, you start to notice some signs of symptoms of hearing loss. And in those cases, it’s often a good idea to immediately get in touch with a hearing specialist and schedule a hearing test.
Some of the signs that might prompt you to get a hearing test could include:
- Difficulty hearing conversations in noisy environments.
- Sounds become muffled; it starts to sound as though you always have water in your ears.
- Having a hard time hearing consonants (in general, consonants are spoken in a higher wavelength than vowels–and it’s those high-frequency sounds that are often the first to go as hearing loss sets in)
- Turning your television or car stereo to excessively high volumes (if your neighbors start complaining, that’s a good sign you should see a hearing specialist soon).
- Constantly asking people to slow down or repeat themselves during a conversation.
- Having a very difficult time understanding people when talking on the phone, mobile or otherwise.
When these warning signs start to add up, it’s a good indication that the perfect time to get a hearing test is right now. The sooner you get your hearing tested, the sooner you’ll know what’s going on with your ears.
What Are the Benefits of Hearing Testing?
There are plenty of reasons why Gretchen might be late in getting her hearing test. Maybe she hasn’t thought about it. Maybe she’s avoiding thinking about it. But there are tangible benefits to getting your hearing tested per recommendations.
Even when your hearing is completely healthy, a hearing test can help set a baseline reading, which makes deviations in the future easier to detect. If you catch your hearing loss before it becomes noticeable, you may be able to make changes to your behavior (such as wearing ear muffs or earplugs more often) and preserve your (nearly) full range of hearing.
The point of regular hearing testing is that someone like Gretchen will be able to detect problems before her hearing is permanently diminished. By catching your hearing loss early–by getting your hearing tested when you should–you’ll be keeping your ears healthier longer.