When you are young, it is easy to ignore the importance of good hearing. You may have had an annual hearing test when you were in grade school, raising your hand every time you heard and tone. But after school was over, you no longer had your hearing tested on a regular basis. Maybe you noticed you turned the TV up a bit louder than usual, or that the feedback noise from the stereo speakers bothered you, but you did not give it a second thought.
Now that you are a bit older, and hopefully a bit wiser, you can no longer afford to ignore your hearing. As we age, our ability to distinguish certain tones and frequencies is reduced, but that reduction is not uniform. Some people live well into their 70s and even 80s with little loss of hearing, while others experience a significant loss of hearing even in their 40s and 50s.
The only way to know for sure is to schedule a comprehensive hearing exam with a qualified professional. Only a professional can tell if your hearing loss is a normal part of aging or something more worrying. If you do need a hearing aid, there are plenty of choices available. You may think that all hearing aids are big and bulky, but modern hearing aidsare virtually invisible. If you did not know that the person sitting next to you was wearing a hearing aid, you would never even know it.
Having an annual hearing exam can help you in other ways as well. Many diseases of the inner ear can be treated effectively if the hearing deficit is discovered in time and dealt with promptly. As with so many medical problems, however, the longer you let it go the worse it will get. By having an annual hearing exam, you help ensure that any problems are caught early, when they are most treatable.
Since your audiologist keeps records of all your past hearing exams, it will be easy to spot any reduction in the quality of your hearing. The specialized hearing tests outlined at the American Speech-Language Hearing Association website are designed to spot not only serious hearing deficiencies but subtle changes in your ability to distinguish frequencies and hear certain tones. These tiny changes in hearing can be easy to miss. That is why it is so important to be evaluated by a professional with years of experience in the industry.
When you make your next appointment for an annual exam, you might want to ask your family physician for a hearing test. Better yet, ask your family doctor for a referral to a hearing specialist. If everything comes back normal, you will be relieved. If there are abnormalities, you will be able to address the issues promptly and get the treatment you need. There is no reason to put off your hearing exam one day longer.