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 2000 Hz 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.
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.