The Better Hearing Institute, a non-profit organization, recommends getting a hearing test once every decade until age 50 and once every three years after that. Those in high-risk professions or with a medical history indicating a higher risk of hearing loss should be tested more frequently.
Even if you do not suspect that you have hearing loss, it’s important to get a hearing test regularly. It could be that you have a very minor hearing loss that would not be noticeable without getting a test. It could be that this hearing loss is the result of some regular activity, for which your hearing protection is inadequate. By recognizing this hearing loss early, you can improve your hearing protection and prevent further hearing loss going forward.
Most people first realize that they have hearing loss when someone else tells them they have it. Hearing loss doesn’t work the same as near- or far-sightedness. When our vision becomes blurry, we can tell that images that should look sharp are out of focus. With hearing loss, we simply don’t hear certain things. We tend to lose high frequencies before lower ones, but this happens so slowly that we don’t recognize the difference between the way things sounded before and the way they sound now.
A hearing test gives us an objective view of our hearing ability. If we do have hearing loss, it is important to start treating it with hearing aids as soon as possible. When we have a gap in our hearing ability, changes start to take place in our brain that can be hard to reverse. Our auditory cortex begins to atrophy, so when we finally do start wearing hearing aids, we still have trouble comprehending speech even though we might hear it clearly.
The best course of action is to get a hearing test at regular intervals and to start wearing hearing aids as soon as hearing loss becomes an issue. This way, hearing loss won’t interrupt your life—or your health and well-being.