When do I Need a Hearing Test?

Having a hearing test is simple and painless. Carmen Martinez Banus/Getty Images

Hearing loss usually occurs gradually and is not always evident in the early stages – only when it gets to the point it causes significant communication problems is it recognized. Hearing loss can be isolating, is linked to depression and dementia in adults, and may prevent language and auditory brain development in children. Finding hearing loss early and treating it is the best way to prevent these issues.

Here are current recommendations for when hearing evaluations should be done.

At Birth

Universal newborn hearing screening was initiated to identify infants with hearing loss as soon as possible. Ideally, hearing loss should be evaluated medically and by the audiologist by the age of 3 months and intervention in place by age 6 months to ensure speech, language, and neurological development is on track with normal hearing peers.

In School

The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Audiology recommend hearing screening for children in preschool, grades 1-3, grade 5, and grade 7 or 9. Estimates place these guidelines as identifying 70% of new hearing loss cases.


After school, hearing should be evaluated at least once per decade until age 50 years. At that time, hearing evaluations should be completed every three years unless there is a significant hearing loss that needs to be monitored and/or treated.

Other Considerations/Exceptions

For children with risk factors for acquired or progressive hearing loss, hearing needs to be monitored more often. According to the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing position statement, these are:

  • “Caregiver concerns regarding hearing, speech or developmental delay.
  • Family history of permanent childhood hearing loss.
  • NICU care of more than five days or any other following regardless length of stay: ECMO, assisted ventilation, ototoxic medication, hyperbilirubinemia requiring a blood transfusion.
  • Low birth weight; less than 1500 grams.
  • In utero infections: CMV, herpes, syphilis, or rubella.
  • Physical findings that are associated with a syndrome known to include sensorineural or permanent conductive hearing loss.
  • Craniofacial anomalies.
  • Syndromes associated with hearing loss.
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Postnatal infections associated with sensorineural hearing loss, such as bacterial meningitis.
  • Head Trauma.
  • Chemotherapy.”

Noise Exposure

Excessive noise exposure causes hearing loss; whether it is occupational or recreational. People who work in noise should have their hearing monitored yearly by the company they work for as part of OSHA guidelines. For people with noisy hobbies, such as riding motorcycles, shooting, hunting, or playing music, a yearly evaluation with an audiologist is recommended to monitor hearing and provide strategies for reducing the amount of noise exposure to protect hearing.

Significant Changes

If you experience a sudden change in hearing, it is important to see an audiologist and/or an otolaryngologist immediately. This is considered a medical emergency and there are treatments that may help recover your hearing if you seek treatment at once.

Other medical reasons to have your hearing tested include vertigo, ringing in the ears, post head injury or traumatic noise exposure, a change in the ability to understand speech, or if you are taking medication that may be toxic to the ears (such as certain types of chemotherapy).  

Hearing evaluations are painless and non-invasive. Identifying hearing loss early may assist in preventing further damage. Treating hearing loss offers significant benefits for children and adults in daily quality of life issues.


Year 2007 Position Statement: Principles and Guidelines for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Programs. JHIC. Accessed July 14, 2015, from http://www.asha.org/policy/PS2007-00281/

American Academy of Audiology Childhood Hearing Screening Guidelines (2011). Accessed July 13, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/documents/aaa_childhood-hearing-guidelines_2011.pdf

Audiology Information Series (n.d.) American Speech, Hearing, and Language Association. Accessed July 13, 2015, from http://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/aud/InfoSeriesAudScreen.pdf


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