A hearing screening is a quick test to see how well you hear different sounds. You either pass or fail the screening. If you pass, you do not need to do anything else. If you fail, you may need more testing to see if you have a hearing loss.
You can have a hearing screening at any age. Most babies have a hearing screening before they leave the hospital. Children get screenings at school or at the doctor’s office. Adults can go to the doctor or local health fairs for a screening.
You should ask your doctor for a hearing screening if you have concerns about your or your child’s hearing. An audiologist can give you a more complete hearing test if you fail the screening. This is called an evaluation, and you should have it done as soon as possible after the screening.
Today, most hospitals screen babies’ hearing shortly after birth. Failing the hearing screening does not mean that your baby has a hearing loss. Not all babies pass the hearing screening the first time. Your baby can get a second screening to see if he passes or fails again.
Hearing screenings for newborns and infants are simple and painless. Your baby rests or sleeps during the test. The two common screening methods for babies are otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) and auditory brainstem response (ABR).
What happens if your baby fails the hearing screening? You will take your baby to see an audiologist for a more complete hearing test. It is important to find out if your baby has a hearing loss as early as you can. You can get your baby help so that she can hear sounds and words and learn to talk.
Even if your baby passes the screening, he may have problems hearing later. Talk to your doctor if you think your child has trouble hearing, and ask for a hearing test. You may be able to get a screening through your local school district or health department. You can ask about screenings, testing, and treatment for hearing loss from your local Early Intervention program.
A pure-tone test is the most common screening for older children and adults. You may remember putting on earphones and raising your hand when you heard a beep. This is a pure-tone test. Your child should get a screening in school every few years. You should get your hearing checked at least once every 10 years up to the age of 50. Then, you should have your hearing screened every 3 years. Hearing loss may happen as you get older. Regular screenings will help you keep track of your hearing and get help when you need it.
Take care of your hearing like you take care of the rest of your body. Get your hearing screened. See an audiologist if you have any concerns.
Find more information about this topic in our Audiology Information Series [PDF].
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