Young children often receive hearing tests as part of their childhood well checks and many doctors recommend that elderly patients get checked regularly as well. Hearing loss affects people of all ages and may occur so gradually that it may not be noticeable until the loss is significant. Untreated auditory loss is associated with decreased cognitive, social, and psychological function. The following tips can help you determine when getting an auditory test for you or a loved one is appropriate.
Listen to Your Child Speak
Aside from the tests that babies receive at birth and that elementary-aged children get during school, most cases of childhood auditory loss are diagnosed due to a parent or educator noticing symptoms by listening to the child speak. Any speech delays, unclear speech, slurred words or the inability to follow oral directions indicate that you should get your child tested. Children have a tendency to get easily distracted, but if you child often asks for clarification, says “huh?” after you speak or seems to ignore your requests, it may not be an attention problem but an auditory problem that needs to be addressed.
Establish a Baseline Test
It’s a good idea to get a hearing test before any loss occurs in order to establish a baseline result with which to compare future tests. It is estimated that 48 million people have some form of auditory loss; most of these individuals are between the ages of 20 and 69. Adults should establish a baseline test as early as possible in order to receive the proper care and treatment if loss does occur later in life.
Look at Your Personal Risk Factors
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, some people have a higher risk of auditory loss than others. Individuals with these risk factors should consider getting a hearing test regularly in order to monitor and treat any loss that occurs. These risk factors include:
- working in a loud environment.
- experiencing recreational noise exposure (i.e. music concerts or sporting events).
- using firearms without protection.
- having diabetes.
- having high blood pressure (hypertension).
Get Checked Regularly After Age 55
Individuals age 65 or older are more at risk of developing auditory loss. It is estimated that one in three individuals over the age of 65 have some form of auditory problem that interferes with their daily life. Experts recommend beginning yearly testing at age 55 in order to diagnose and treat auditory problems.
Be Aware of Symptoms
The symptoms of auditory loss are often first noticed by friends and family. If your loved ones have commented on these symptoms or if you have experienced any of the following, it’s important to get tested as soon as possible. These symptoms include:
- muffled sounds.
- difficulty in listening on the phone.
- having to frequently turn up the television or radio.
- avoiding social functions and interactions.
- pain, pressure, discomfort, or discharge from the ear
Modern advances in auditory loss treatment have allowed individuals to lead full, active lives. Don’t put off getting tested. Make an appointment today and learn your options for auditory loss.