Did you know that your hearing should be tested regularly once you’re over 55? Just as an eye doctor checks your vision, an audiologist checks your hearing with a hearing test. Here are some frequently asked questions about hearing tests.

Do I need a hearing test?

Even if you haven’t noticed a decline in your hearing, it’s important to have your hearing checked as you age. If you’re in your late 50s and have not noticed a decline in hearing, you have what’s called a baseline test, which determines how well you hear right now. An audiologist will recommend how often you should return to have your hearing checked based upon the results. If it’s been quite a while since your last hearing test or you notice that you’re having some problems hearing the TV or at parties or restaurants, it’s time for a hearing test.

How long does the test take?

A hearing test appointment is actually made up of three different tests along with a physical exam and a consultation. The whole thing takes about an hour, no preparation necessary.

What tests are performed?

First, a physical exam of your ears is done, followed by a discussion of your medical history. Then the audiologist gives you a series of hearing tests, which may include:

  • A pure-tone test checks how well you hear sounds of different volumes and different pitches. You wear headphones in a soundproof room and listen for tones. You identify in which ear you hear the tone.
  • A speech test evaluates the softest sounds you can hear. Words are whispered or spoken softly and you are asked to repeat them.
  • A tuning fork test checks for conductive or nerve issues. A tuning fork is tapped near your ear and you note when the sound fades.

Will insurance cover my hearing test?

It depends. It’s best to check with your insurance company before making your appointment.

Will I need hearing aids?

The results of the tests will determine whether or not your hearing can be improved through hearing aids. If your audiologist determines that hearing instruments will help, you will discuss the options at this appointment. Sometimes impacted earwax leads to temporary hearing loss and can be treated at the hearing test appointment. There may also be other medical reasons for hearing loss.

How often should I have my hearing tested?

Once you have your baseline test, depending upon the results, you should have your hearing checked every year or two, especially as you get older. If you notice any problems you should schedule an appointment with your audiologist as soon as possible.

When you think of health exams, you likely think about an annual physical, dental check-ups and eye exams. As we get older, an annual hearing test should be added to the list. If declines in hearing are caught early, further hearing loss may be delayed or prevented. Hopefully these questions and answers have helped prepare you for a hearing test.