Only 1 in 5 people with hearing loss seeks treatment for their condition, making untreated hearing loss a major concern. Since hearing loss usually develops gradually over several years, many patients aren’t aware that their hearing abilities have worsened.
Regular hearing evaluations identify hearing loss in its early stages and are recommended for children, adults and seniors.
Children should receive hearing screenings at birth, around age three, in kindergarten and then every other year until they reach their teenage years. Teens and adults under 50 require less frequent hearing testing and should see an audiologist every 2–5 years. For adults over 50 years old, doctors recommend hearing assessments annually or biennially.
What to Expect at Your Hearing Evaluation
Hearing evaluations usually comprise several different tests in order to get a complete picture of your hearing abilities. Hearing tests are simple and painless, and most take just a few minutes to complete. Different tests reveal different things about your hearing abilities, including:
- The severity of your hearing loss in decibels. There are seven categories of hearing impairment ranging from normal to profound.
- What type of hearing loss you have. There are three types of hearing loss: conductive (outer or middle ear), sensorineural (inner ear) and mixed hearing loss.
- The frequency of your hearing loss. Most patients struggle to hear high-frequency sounds, though plenty of patients also struggle to hear sounds produced at low pitches.
- Whether your hearing is impaired in one ear (unilateral) or both ears (bilateral). Bilateral hearing loss is more common, but many Alexandria patients have impaired hearing on just one side.
- Your speech comprehension abilities. Some patients hear in the normal decibel level range but struggle to differentiate speech sounds from background noise.
Your audiologist will choose which hearing tests to administer based on your symptoms, medical history and answers to a pre-evaluation questionnaire. Some of the most common tests in a hearing evaluation are:
- Audiometry Test
- Tuning Fork Test
- Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR)
- Word Recognition Test
- Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE)