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Recommended Hearing Test Frequency

Problems with hearing can occur at any age and can be associated to genetic causes, trauma, disease, drugs and external factors such as noisy environments. It is important to do regular checks on your hearing as part of your annual medical exam even if you do not have any symptoms or complaints.

Who needs hearing tests?

Many people consider hearing tests only after they feel substantial hearing deterioration or are urged by friends or relatives who have noticed the problem. You should consider testing your hearing if you find yourself in one or several of the following situations:

  • having difficulty understanding speech or specific sounds especially when there is background noise present or when talking over the phone
  • often asking people to repeat what they have said and having the feeling they mumble or speak unclearly
  • needing to increase the volume of the TV or radio so much that the others listening find it uncomfortable
  • feeling pain or ringing in the ears
  • having frequent ear infections, excessive earwax build-up or fluid in the middle ear
  • exposure to loud noises for a prolonged period of time such as a noisy workplace, machinery or to frequent abrupt loud noises
  • after suffering a head trauma or other injury that is likely to affect hearing
  • if there is a history of auditory problems in the family as hearing loss can be hereditary

In addition, if you have used powerful drugs whose common side effects may include hearing deterioration, it is advisable to seek medical help to determine any degree of hearing loss.

In cases where you find yourself often in situations similar to those described above, it is recommended to have your hearing checked at least every six months.

What hearing tests are there?

Hearing tests are painless procedures that are performed by audiologists who then prepare an audiogram (graph) visually representing your hearing loss. After analysing it, they can recommend the right course of treatment or hearing aid for managing the condition. The test can be pure tone (using a special device to test how your inner ear and pathway hears sound) or a speech recognition test (you will be asked to repeat words you hear). Other tests include auditory brainstem response testing, electrocochleography, tympanometry, otoacoustic emission testing. All these test the different parts of the ear and are used to find the location and source of the problem.

You can also check you hearing with various online hearing tests that are usually free of charge. However, you should note that whilst such a test may identify hearing problems, it is always advisable to arrange a full diagnostic hearing test.

Why it is important to do regular hearing checks

Hearing loss can affect person’s daily activities, communication abilities and independence. It is very important to take good care of your hearing, protect it and seek professional help when you think your hearing might be compromised. It is also essential to note that hearing problems can lead to or may indicate other health problems such as a higher risk of Alzheimer’s or dementia. Having trouble hearing low frequency sounds has also been connected to problems with the heart. In addition, many hard of hearing are more prone to depression, irritability or anxiety.

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