Most audiologists recommend that people over a certain age get hearing tests at least once per year. But is it really necessary? Or are they trying to fill their books? Fortunately, independent bodies set official guidance on how often people should get hearing tests. This protects patients from unnecessary testing and also shows you what the science demands. And they say that some patients should get tested every year.

How Often Do You Need to Get Hearing Tests?

How often you need to get hearing tests depends on your age and underlying medical conditions. Young people in good health should get their hearing tested around once every ten years from the age of 21 until 50. After that, they should get tested every three years, since the risk of developing hearing loss goes up.

After the age of 60, patients should go for annual checkups. These can help to detect rapid-onset hearing loss early and provide treatment in a timely manner.

What’s the Difference Between Hearing Tests and Screenings?

As a patient, you should be careful to distinguish between a hearing test and a hearing screening. They are not the same. A hearing test is an extensive panel of evaluations carried out by a certified hearing professional. These can include:

  • Audiograms: Listening to a series of pure tones through headphones in a soundproof booth and then indicating to the audiologist when you can hear them.
  • Bone conduction tests: A technique designed to detect conductive hearing loss. This test requires wearing a small device behind the ear that emits vibrations to stimulate the cochlear.
  • Otoacoustic emissions: Otoacoustic emissions testing involves placing a probe with a microphone and speaker inside the ear canal. Generated sounds stimulate hair cells in the inner ear, causing them to vibrate. Audiologists then check how well you can detect these noises
  • Speech testing: In some cases, audiologists may also perform speech testing. These assess your ability to hear different words and phrases and repeat them back.
  • Auditory brainstem response: You may also undergo an auditory brainstem response test. Here, audiologists place electrodes on your head, ear lobes and scalp and then send a series of clicking noises through headphones. This test is designed to locate where the hearing loss is occurring, usually the inner ear

By contrast, an ear screening is a quick hearing test that you either pass or fail. These quickly determine whether there is a hearing issue present or not. Most babies get screened soon after birth. Children receive them during school. Adults may get them at walk-in health clinics.

If people pass the hearing screening, no further action is required. However, if they fail, they may need to undergo a more extensive hearing evaluation, as described above. Critically, hearing screenings don’t tell you much about the nature of your hearing loss. It just lets you know that you might be at risk or already living with the condition.

Hearing screening is important from an early age and something that people should probably do annually. Hearing loss affects an estimated eight million people between the ages of 18 and 44, and 14% of those between 45 and 64. Hence, the likelihood of actually having the condition is high.

Who Should Get Annual Hearing Tests?

Above we described general guidelines for how often people should get hearing tests. However, there are some groups of people who should go for an evaluation with their audiologist annually, regardless of their age.

These include:

  • People are regularly exposed to loud noises: DJs, emcees, construction workers, factory workers, airport baggage handlers and musicians should all go to their audiologist annually to get their hearing checked. Chronic exposure to loud noises increases hearing loss risk substantially.
  • People who already have hearing loss: Hearing loss can worsen over time. Because of this, it is critical that audiologists know how it is progressing. This way, they can adjust hearing aids and change your medications in some cases.
  • People with conditions that increase the risk of hearing loss: Certain conditions, such as osteoporosis, heart disease and diabetes increase the risk of hearing loss. If you have one of these conditions, get your hearing tested regularly by an audiologist.

Book Your Annual Hearing Test Today

If you want to protect your hearing, booking annual tests with your audiologist is essential. Call The Hearing Clinic at Woodlake at 612-200-8414 to arrange a consultation with one of our audiologists.

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