How often should you get your ears and your hearing checked via a hearing test? Most of us don’t think much about our hearing until there’s a problem, but caring for your hearing should be part of looking after your health. If you find yourself finding it hard to hear during conversations, or if you have pain or ringing in your ears, it’s definitely time for an ear exam.
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Everyone knows that you should get your ears checked when there’s an issue, but what about when your ears and hearing seem fine?
For most adults, the last time they had their hearing tested was during school. If this is the case with you, then you should make an appointment with a hearing specialist. Adults should ideally have their ears tested after the age of 21, just as a precaution.
You can ask your doctor to check your hearing as part of an annual physical exam. This baseline test will show where your hearing is at that point in time. When you’re older, an audiologist can better understand how much your hearing has changed and can treat you far more effectively.
Even with no hearing loss, you should have your ears tested every 10 years until you turn 50. After the age of 50, have a hearing test every 3 years.
A hearing screening is different from a more comprehensive hearing test. These tests are usually quick, and check to see if you need further testing. You can either pass or fail a hearing screening.
If you pass the screening, then you likely don’t have hearing loss. If you fail, then you will be need to see a specialist for a more in-depth test. Further testing will help you to understand what kind of hearing loss you have, how severe the loss is, and what the best treatment is likely to be.
Babies usually have hearing screenings at birth, and children have them several times at school. As an adult, you can ask to be screened at your doctor’s office.
Hearing loss is more common in those over the age of 65, but younger people can experience hearing loss too. If you think you’re losing your hearing, you should ask your GP for a screening.
What Causes Hearing Loss?
An ear infection (or otitis media, as doctors call it) is a common cause of hearing loss in adults. An ear infection means a part of your eardrum has become inflamed. This can happen thanks to a cold, allergies, or a buildup of pus and mucus caused by a virus or bacteria. You can also experience temporary hearing loss if you have fluid in your ear for weeks or months, and the infection isn’t treated.
There are other things that can cause hearing loss, including:
*A buildup of earwax
*Inflammation in your external auditory canal (sometimes known as swimmer’s ear)
*A head or ear injury
*Otosclerosis, which is a disease that affects the tiny bones in the ear
*Cholesteatoma, which is a condition that can develop thanks to an ongoing ear infection