Our ability to hear is one of our most important senses as it allows us to communicate and interact with the world around us. However, hearing loss is a common issue, affecting millions of people across the globe.
Hearing loss is a gradual process that in many cases goes undetected until it becomes significant. In this article, we’ll be discussing how often you should get a hearing test, the symptoms of hearing loss, how hearing loss changes over time, and why having regular hearing tests is beneficial.
How often should I get a hearing test?
How often you should get a hearing test depends on several factors, such as your age, exposure to noise and family history of hearing loss. As a general rule of thumb, once hearing loss or a hearing issue has been detected, it is recommended to have regular hearing tests every 3 to 4 years. This is to make sure that your hearing loss is managed appropriately with the right hearing aids.
However, if you are experiencing symptoms of hearing loss, or have a high risk of developing hearing loss, you may need to have hearing tests more frequently. Those who are considered high risk for hearing loss are:
- People who are regularly exposed to loud noises during their work, such as construction workers, military personnel and entertainers such as musicians and DJs.
- People who have suffered from a head injury.
- People who regularly experience illnesses such as high fevers, meningitis and ear infections.
What are the symptoms of hearing loss?
Hearing loss affects everyone differently and how you experience hearing loss may be different to those we’ve listed. However, there are common symptoms that are often present in the early and acute stages of hearing loss. Some of the common symptoms of hearing loss include:
- Muffled or unclear speech: If you find that speech sounds muffled or unclear, especially in noisy environments, it could be a sign of hearing loss. People with hearing loss often struggle to differentiate between sounds, making it difficult to understand speech.
- Ringing in the ears: Also known as tinnitus, ringing in the ears, is a common symptom of hearing loss. Tinnitus can be a sign of damage to the inner ear, which can affect your ability to hear.
- Difficulty following conversations: If you experience trouble following conversations, especially in group settings, this can be a sign of hearing loss. People with hearing loss often struggle to understand speech, especially in noisy environments.
- Unable to hear high-pitched sounds: Certain pitches and sounds like the sound of birds or women’s and children’s voices can be difficult to hear if you’re experiencing hearing loss.
As well as these symptoms, there are other factors that can contribute to hearing loss, such as listening to loud music for prolonged periods of time, ageing, and certain medical conditions. Regular hearing tests can help monitor your hearing health and identify any potential issues early on, allowing for early intervention and treatment.
Changes in hearing loss over time
Your hearing ability changes over time. In the early stages, it may only affect high-pitched sounds but as it progresses, it can affect all frequencies making it difficult to hear speech, music, and other everyday sounds.
One common cause of gradual hearing loss is ageing. As people age, the structures in the ear can deteriorate, leading to a gradual decline in hearing. This type of hearing loss is known as presbycusis, and it is a common problem for people over the age of 60.
Another cause of gradual hearing loss is exposure to loud noises. Exposure to loud noises, such as concerts, construction sites, or firearms can cause damage to the hair cells in the inner ear over time. This damage can accumulate and lead to a gradual decline in hearing capacity.
Sudden hearing loss can occur as a result of trauma, infection, or a medical condition and can be particularly concerning, as it can impact your ability to hear and understand speech immediately.
Some hearing loss that is a result of injury or illness isn’t always permanent, but should always be checked by a hearing specialist. It is important to monitor your hearing regularly and get a hearing test if you notice any changes.
Benefits of having a hearing test
A hearing test is a simple, non-invasive procedure that identifies and determines the type and severity of the hearing loss. We offer a complete hearing assessment that includes a full examination of the ear canals and eardrum, a diagnostic hearing test to examine your hearing capacity and a copy of your test results with a referral letter when required.
Getting a hearing test is an important part of maintaining good hearing health and it’s generally recommended to get a hearing test every 10 years, or if you suspect a hearing loss. Having regular hearing tests can help with:
- Early detection: A hearing test can detect hearing loss in its early stages, allowing for early intervention and treatment.
- Better communication: Getting a hearing test can help you understand the extent of your loss and find ways to improve your communication skills.
- Improved quality of life: Treating hearing loss can improve your quality of life, allowing you to better hear and communicate with others.
- Monitoring progress: Regular hearing tests can help monitor the progress of your hearing loss, allowing you to adjust your treatment and management plan accordingly.
We can also offer diagnostic tympanometry should you need it. If you suspect hearing loss, booking a hearing test appointment is the best way to get you on the path to better hearing.
If you suspect you’re experiencing signs of hearing loss, or have concerns about your existing hearing loss diagnosis, book an appointment to speak with our expert audiologists using our online booking system. We have clinics in Sheffield and can also visit you at your home, or alternatively, you can use our free online hearing test for an initial diagnosis.