If you’re like most people in Bellevue or Kirkland, you haven’t had a hearing test in a long time. This is understandable; when you are hearing fine, you’re not going to make a hearing exam a priority. Why fix what ain’t broke, right? The only problem is, your hearing might be “broke” without you realizing it!
A Guideline for Scheduling Hearing Exams
Hearing loss is extremely common in the U.S.; it affects 48 million Americans, making it the third most common physical health condition behind arthritis and heart disease. Experts believe that about one out of every five people in Bellevue and Redmond has hearing loss to a certain extent.
Hearing loss is caused by a variety of factors; the most common ones include age, noise exposure, trauma and disease. Left untreated, your risk of developing a serious physical, social or psychological health complication increases. Hearing loss is associated with isolation, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress. Patients are more likely to experience dementia, kidney disease and potentially fatal falls. The sooner a diagnosis can be made, the better your health and overall quality of life will be.
Hearing Loss is Difficult to Identify
Don’t assume you’ll recognize the signs of hearing loss when they occur. The brain does an amazing job of filling in the blanks by diverting cognitive resources from areas such as memory and concentration to help you hear better. It takes seven years, on average, from the onset of hearing loss until most patients seek treatment. In many cases, they are simply unaware of a problem.
Hearing tests are the best tools for diagnosing hearing loss early and accurately. When and how often you have your hearing checked depends on factors such as age, symptoms and overall risk. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) recommends the following schedule for kids and adults.
- Adults under the age of 50 should have their hearing tested at least once every 10 years.
- Adults aged 50 and older should have their hearing tested every three years.
- Children should have their hearing tested when they enter school and at ages 6, 8 and 10. They should be given additional hearing screenings once during middle school and again high school.
Certain risk factors demand more frequent testing. Speak to your Bellevue audiologist about a more consistent schedule if any of the following apply to you:
- Frequent exposure to occupational or recreational noise
- Family history of hearing loss
- A recent or persistent viral or bacterial infection
- Use of medications that are associated with hearing loss
- Head injury
Contact a Puget Sound hearing specialist to schedule a hearing test or learn more about hearing loss.