Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the U.S. It is also on the rise. Up to 36 million Americans now report lost hearing. The following is a list of the types of hearing loss, their causes and advice on what to look for in hearing loss.

Who Should Be Screened for Hearing Loss?

People of any age can be screened for hearing loss. Newborn infants are now routinely screened before leaving the hospital. Most preschoolers and school-age children are screened periodically at their schools or in their doctors’ offices. Adults can receive screenings from their doctor or at health fairs.

Hearing loss increases as a function of age, especially for frequencies of 2000 Hertz (Hz) and above. Sounds above 2000Hz are the soft consonant sounds such as /s/ in “sun” and /th/ in “thumb.” While more than 30% of people over age 65 have some type of hearing loss, 14% of those between 45 and 64 have hearing loss. Close to 8 million people between the ages of 18 and 44 have hearing loss. Adults should be screened at least every decade through age 50 and at 3-year intervals thereafter or if they notice a change in their hearing.

Certainly, anytime you have a concern about your hearing or your child’s hearing, you should ask your doctor about getting a hearing screening. Anyone failing a hearing screening should be referred to a certified audiologist for a more comprehensive audiologic (hearing) evaluation. The follow-up evaluation should be conducted as soon as possible after the failed hearing screening and no more than 3 months later.
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