5 Signs You Need to Be Tested for Hearing Loss

If you find yourself saying “what?” a lot, you might be starting to wonder about your hearing. You’re not alone. Roughly 15% of American adults have some level of hearing loss. The good news? Now that you can access over-the-counter hearing aids, improving your hearing can be pretty simple. 

So should you get a hearing test? To answer that, it’ll help to understand the signs of hearing loss, the importance of regular hearing checkups and what to expect from them. Let’s look at all of that here. 

What is a hearing test?

Before we get into the signs you might have hearing loss, let’s ease any fears you might have about a hearing screening. If you’re feeling uneasy because you don’t know what to expect, we can help. 

Hearing loss tests are quick, painless processes. Usually, you’ll be done in a half hour or less. 

Your certified audiologist generally tailors the hearing screening to you. Some of the more common types of hearing tests include:

  • Pure-tone tests that evaluate the quietest volume at which you can hear certain pitches.
  • Speech tests during which you listen to and try your best to repeat words and phrases.
  • Tests to see if there’s fluid or wax buildup in your ear, like bone conduction testing and tympanometry.
  • More specialized testing like auditory brainstem response (ABR) or otoacoustic emissions (OAE) tests.

Pure-tone testing and speech testing are the most common hearing tests. With a pure-tone hearing test, you sit in a soundproof room. You’ll wear a set of headphones through which your audiologist sends sounds at different pitches and volumes to one ear at a time. You signal when you hear the sound, usually by raising a hand or pressing a button. 

Speech testing functions similarly, but instead of hearing tones, you hear words and are asked to repeat them. Your audiologist evaluates the lowest volume at which you can still clearly make out the words and phrases. 

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association recommends that all adults get hearing loss tests every decade until age 50, after which point they should get regular hearing checkups every three years. Remember, getting hearing aids is easier now thanks to over-the-counter options, so there’s no reason to drag your heels here. 

Importance of regular hearing checkups

A young female pediatrician examining a newborn baby boy A young female pediatrician examining a newborn baby boy

urbanzon/E+/Getty Images

Many adults live with some level of hearing loss, often without knowing it. That’s why regular hearing checkups matter. If any of the signs we just laid out sound familiar, schedule a hearing test for yourself. 

Plus, if you catch your hearing loss early when it’s mild to moderate, over-the-counter hearing aids can likely help. Before you jump in with them, though, see a certified audiologist and weigh some key considerations

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