Have you recently found yourself asking people to repeat themselves because they sound as if they are mumbling? Perhaps you are suffering from a ringing in the ears or dizzy spells. Regardless of age, symptoms such as these should be investigated by an audiologist. However, no one should wait until these ailments occur. Instead, there are guidelines regarding routine hearing tests that should be followed in order to catch problems early and get them treated.
There are very few hearing problems that can’t be solved with hearing aids, medication, or surgery. The early detection of hearing problems in children is key to their speech, language, social, and learning development. Hospitals require hearing tests for newborns before they are released. Parents of children born at home are encouraged to have testing performed by three months of age. Older children may require additional screenings if they fail to respond when spoken to, are slow to develop speech, or complain of head noises or ear pain.
Throughout childhood and adolescence, exposure to loud music and other sounds can lead to hearing damage. According to the Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals (AIHHP), persons aged 18 to 45 should have their hearing tested every five years. Beyond that, screening should be performed every three years for individuals until they are 60-years-old. Adult hearing screenings can consist of several types of tests including middle ear exams, auditory brainstem response, otoacoustic emissions, and pure-tone or speech testing.
A common misconception is that hearing loss among senior citizens is just a sign of aging. Professionals agree that this does not have to be the case. However, it is recommended that those over 60-years-old have their hearing tested every two years. This is because several age-related factors can lead to hearing loss in the elderly. These causes can include a lifetime of exposure to loud noises or health problems associated with smoking, diabetes, or medication.
Hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair cells in the inner ear become damaged or die. These hairs do not regrow so this damage is often irreversible. However, early detection can help sufferers live a full life with the use of hearing aids, assistive devices, and sign language or speech reading education. Cochlear implants are also available to those with severe hearing loss and will allow them to detect sounds again, but they do not restore normal hearing. The best defense against hearing loss is to get tested often instead of waiting for problems to arise.