A lot of people procrastinate much-needed hearing tests. And there are a lot of reasons for doing so, but toward the top of that list is fear of a hearing aid. That’s according to Laura Lynch, audiologist with the Fairfax County Health Department.
“People think you should only get your hearing tested if you think you need a hearing aid. But that is not the right approach,” Laura said. “Hearing tests are often completed during childhood, but a baseline should also be performed as an adult after age 18. If there is no hearing loss at the time of the baseline, one should be screened about every 3-5 years until age 60, then annually after that.”
Regular hearing tests are important
Keeping up with your hearing tests helps track hearing changes, even subtle ones. Hearing loss can start at any time and at any age. It is particularly important for those with high risk factors for hearing loss to get tested. This includes people who have been subject to regular noise exposure (such as working in a noisy environment) or those who have a family history of hearing loss.
“Of course, if changes in hearing are suspected one should be tested as soon as possible,” Laura reinforced.
While hearing loss can occur at any age, it is most likely to affect older people. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
Hearing loss affects more than the ears
And, hearing loss impacts more than a person’s ability to listen to music or participate in conversations. It can also affect balance, cause isolation and depression. Hearing loss can make other illnesses appear worse than they might be.
Laura’s message: Don’t be scared.
“First, having a hearing test does not necessarily mean that you will need a hearing aid. Second, there is no shame in using an aid if you need one. Hearing is an important part of your overall health picture, affecting your balance and mental health.”
“Finally, I realize no one wants to be told that they need a hearing aid. But if you do, use it proudly as a symbol of the dedication you have to your own well-being,” she said.
Get your hearing tested through the Health Department’s Speech and Hearing program. Tests are available on a sliding fee scale. Please email us or call +1 (703)246-7120, TTY 711 to make an appointment.
- Get a baseline hearing test at age 18
- Get hearing screenings every 3-5 years until age 60
- Remember that hearing affects many aspects of your health, do not take it lightly
- If you require a hearing aid, wear it proudly!
Laura Lynch is an audiologist with the Fairfax County Health Department’s Speech and Hearing program.