Statistics show that nearly 48 million people in the U.S. have some form of hearing loss. The proportion of people with hearing loss is higher above the age of 65 years. Even though the prevalence of hearing loss is greater in older adults, children and young adults aren’t safe from it either. In fact, 15 percent of children and teenagers between the ages of six and 19 have a measurable hearing loss in at least one ear. Newborns are impacted by hearing difficulties too – approximately five out of 1,000 are born with hearing loss.

Faced with such eye-opening facts, people need to become more proactive when it comes to protecting against hearing loss. The first step is to find out if you already have hearing loss. There is a step-by-step procedure to determine if you have a hearing loss and what treatment will work best for you. The first step is to get a hearing screening.

What is a hearing screening?

A hearing screening is a preliminary check to judge whether a person has hearing loss or not. This is a short evaluation that involves checking a patient’s hearing to see if further evaluation is necessary. Taking only a few minutes, hearing screening is a cost-effective, painless and quick method. Today, most hospitals screen the hearing of newborn babies shortly after they are born so that any possible hearing loss can be detected as earlier in their life as possible.

It is recommended that all hearing screening programs be conducted under the supervision of an audiologist holding the ASHA Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). Experts dub a hearing screening as a simple “pass or fail” test in which people are divided into two categories: those presumed to have no hearing loss and those that show some signs of hearing loss. People who fail the hearing screening are sent for a more detailed hearing evaluation by a qualified professional.

What is a hearing evaluation?

Individuals that do not pass the hearing screening are recommended to visit an audiologist to look deeper into their hearing health to determine what type and degree of hearing loss they have and discuss possible treatment options. When compared to a hearing screening, a hearing evaluation is more in-depth and detailed and consists of several tests to reach a diagnosis.

A hearing evaluation typically consists of different tests conducted by the audiologist to help in the diagnosis and treatment of your hearing loss. A hearing test measures your ability to hear sounds that reach the inner ear through the ear canal (air-conducted sounds) and sounds transmitted through the skull (bone-conducted sounds).

Most of the tests in a hearing evaluation require a patient to respond to a series of tones or words. An audiologist closely studies the way you respond to different sound cues, different frequencies, volumes and tones, and tries to diagnose the root cause of your hearing loss. Once the audiologist has determined what kind and degree of hearing loss you have, he or she will discuss the different treatment options available to you.