When was the last time you had a hearing test? For most people, the answer to that question is grade school or never. You probably don’t even know whether you need a hearing test—because everything seems okay.
Why do you need hearing tests?
Because hearing loss is a gradual process that may be difficult to notice by yourself. About 15 percent of Americans experience some trouble hearing, and age is one of the strongest predictors of hearing loss. It is advisable to go for regular hearing tests if you are above 21 years.
Hearing screening vs. hearing tests
Most Americans undergo hearing screening at birth and in grade school. The screening aims to detect hearing loss at an early stage and prevent developmental problems. Hearing screening is a pass-fail test. If you fail the test, the oncologist performs a full test. Hearing tests seek to establish the factors causing the hearing loss as well as ways of correcting the problems.
When should you get a hearing test?
When you have hearing problems and when you don’t. Beyond grade school, your hearing health becomes your responsibility. If you go for yearly health checkups, it’s up to you to remind your healthcare provider to include hearing screening. Further, ask your primary care provider to include comprehensive hearing tests during your routine checkup if you have been diagnosed with hearing loss before.
Changes in your hearing are an indication that you need hearing screening. Maybe you are frequently asking people to repeat what they said or your friends are complaining that your music is too loud. If you are experiencing such problems, your hearing might be deteriorating. Other signs of hearing loss are pain and ringing sensations in the ear. You should see an audiologist any time your hearing shows signs of deterioration.
What causes hearing loss
There are different types of hearing loss; each type has different causes:
Conductive hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is caused by problems with the transmission of sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. It can stem from problems with the middle ear, eardrum, or ear canal. Specific causes of conductive hearing loss include:
- Accumulation of fluid in the middle ear due to cold
- Infections and foreign objects in the ear canal
- Tumors and malformation of the ear structure
- Hereditary disorders such as otosclerosis
- Perforated eardrum
Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL): This occurs when the nerve fibers or special cells of the inner ear are damaged. Specific causes include
- Persistent exposure to loud noise
- Hereditary disorders
- Viruses and autoimmune ear diseases
- Head trauma
Mixed hearing loss: This type of hearing loss is caused by both problems with sound conduction and damage of the inner ear or auditory nerve.
The bottom line
Hearing loss is gradual; it might be difficult to notice without undergoing hearing screening. If you are above 21 years, go for hearing screening at least once a year. Also, visit an audiologist when you start noticing problems with your hearing.