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Published on May 24, 2012

When Should You Get a Hearing Test?

In Brief

  • Adults should have their hearing screened at least every decade through age 50 and at three-year intervals from that point on.
  • People who should be screened for hearing loss include children, adults who have an exposure to noise, patients undergoing treatment with ototoxic medications, and senior citizens.
  • Any infant who fails newborn screening, children with speech or developmental delay, or children with poor performance at school should be screened for early intervention. 
  • If a person notices a sudden hearing loss, he or she should make an appointment with an otolaryngologist as soon as possible.

Hearing is a complex process of picking up sound and attaching meaning to it. It can be critical to helping people of all ages understand the world around them. But what if you fear hearing loss because of your occupation, age or another factor? A hearing screening can help answer your questions. But when is the right time to receive a hearing screening?

“People of any age can be screened for hearing loss. Newborn infants are routinely screened before they leave the hospital. Most preschoolers and school-age children are screened periodically at their schools or their doctors’ offices,” says John M. Feehery, M.D., chief of the Section of Otolaryngology at Taylor Hospital. “Adults should be screened at least every decade through age 50 and at three-year intervals from that point on. Anyone failing a hearing evaluation should see a certified audiologist for a more comprehensive audiologic (hearing) evaluation.”

Feehery explains there are four groups of people that should be screened for hearing loss: children, adults who have an exposure to noise, patients undergoing treatment with ototoxic medications, and senior citizens. Any infant who fails newborn screening, children with speech or developmental delay, or children with poor performance at school should be screened for early intervention. 

“In addition, the latest research indicates that the loss of hearing and the delay in rehabilitation in the elderly population can negatively impact their cognition, so it is important for seniors to receive regular screenings,” says Mahmoud Ghaderi, D.O., chief of the Division of Otolaryngology at Springfield Hospital.

“Adults with noise exposure should be screened and educated about the dangers of their noise exposure. This includes people with occupational exposure, such as military personnel, construction workers, truck drivers and those with recreational exposures such as musicians, hunters, motorcyclists and more. Patients who have autoimmune diseases or cancer often are treated with medications that can cause hearing loss or dizziness. These patients should have their hearing tested pre-treatment and after therapy,” says Marc Surkin, M.D., chief of the Section of Otolaryngology at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

“Anyone working in a noisy environment or engaged in loud hobbies can have a hearing loss. Indications of dangerous noise levels can be pain, ringing or fullness in the ears when exposed to noise. Loud noises cause damage to the fine structures of the hearing mechanism of the inner ear. If exposed to loud noises for work, OSHA has very strict guidelines, and the danger comes when they are not followed. It is important to follow the guidelines put in place for hearing protection,” says Kenneth B. Briskin, M.D., F.A.C.S., chief of the Division of Otolaryngology at Crozer-Chester Medical Center.

“If someone is having problems hearing conversation or has to turn the television volume up, he or she needs to be screened for hearing loss. Difficulty with background noise can be the first sign of hearing damage,” Ghaderi adds.

Ghaderi also suggests that if a person notices a sudden hearing loss, he or she should make an appointment with an otolaryngologist as soon as possible. The sooner someone sees a physician, the better chance of recovery.

For information about the services that Crozer-Keystone offers to those suffering from hearing and speech disorders, or to find an otolaryngologist who’s right for you, call 1-800-CK-HEALTH (1-800-254-3258) or visit www.crozerkeystone.org.

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